Sports Betting Coming to Alabama, Maybe

Under Alabama law, a statewide direct vote still must approve any legalized gambling measures.

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Sports betting is coming to Alabama

Gambling laws vary state by state, county by county, often city by city in this country. You would need to take a full-year law class to understand the legislation surrounding types of gaming prohibited or not prohibited as you travel around the country. And then retake it regularly because laws are changing constantly. Suffice it to say, more and more legal gambling is coming. If it’s not in your state, it’s about to be. Excluding perhaps Utah and Hawaii which maintain complete zero skin in the gaming game. Not even a state lottery, you know, for the children.

Alabama seems headed in the Casablanca direction itself, with a revived bill allowing for casinos, a total of nine if you include Native tribal land. And these casinos will have pro and college sports betting. If you’ve spent time in Alabama you know the big losers in this gambling endeavor will be the bingo parlors. Those parlors have served as a means for thrill-seeking older ladies to get their gaming fix since the dawn of time. Put away the markers, ladies, it’s time to hit the nickel slots.

Would you be shocked to find gambling in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa?

Alabama along with Mississippi tends to rank as the two most church-going states in the nation. Perhaps it was impossible some time ago to imagine both openly allowing gambling houses. But no longer. The new state-authorized gaming is expected to produce $500M to $700M annually in tax revenue. That’s not an unsubstantial revenue increase for a state the economic size of Alabama. (This would be equivalent to New York taking in $3.5 billion in new tax revenue.)

The new casinos would largely be operated at the state’s existing greyhound race tracks. If you’re not from the Deep South, you may not be aware of the popularity, at least once, of that sport. It’s horse track betting, but with smaller animals. The current owners of those tracks would be the most likely operators of the new casinos, run under a new Alabama Gaming Commission.

Sports books would be allowed at each of the casinos in person or through online portals. Imagine what that could look like around big college football weekends. All other games of chance will be allowed within the casinos, including slot machines.

Greyhound racing has a long tradition in the South.
The last greyhound racetrack in Alabama shut down operations during COVID. The new casinos in Alabama will largely be on the site of these former dog racetracks.

Additionally, the state will be engaging in a new Lottery to raise funds for education. Or as state lotteries are often referred to informally, a tax on the poor. They do not attract the most savvy gamblers. To ensure more people are driven toward the 20% state taxed new gambling operations, the State Gaming Commission will be shutting down all electronic or online bingo operations across the state. Though electronic bingo will be allowed within the casinos. In short, they want you in the casinos.

The Bill has passed the State Senate, but still need approval from the State House, which is expected with a few bits of tinkering. However, the Alabama Constitution prevents gambling from being instituted only by elected representatives, so the fully approved measure will still need to go before a direct vote of the public this November. No word on expectations for that vote, but expect a ton of commercials from the expected new owners of the casinos and lots of pictures of kids enjoying their new school playgrounds.

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