Alabama Conference Committee to Discuss Future of Sports Betting

Grant Mitchell
Grant Mitchell
USA Legal Betting
Alabama Conference Committee to Discuss Future of Sports Betting


  • Conference committees form when one chamber rejects amendments to bills from proposed by the first chamber
  • The Senate stripped two bills of all sports betting language
  • Conference committee members are reportedly more in agreement than expected

An Alabama conference committee met on Wednesday to discuss the future of sports betting in one of the most anti-gambling states in America.

The House approved two gaming bills in February that proposed legalizing seven casinos, retail and online sports betting, and a state lottery. Both bills then received major changes in a Senate committee, which removed all sports betting language from each of the proposals.

The Senate committee-approved bills contained proposals for three tribal casinos, the state lottery, and parimutuel horse and dog racing at seven state racetracks.

Back and forth

Early optimism amongst the pro-gambling faction of Alabama lawmakers disappeared after the Senate Tourism Committee’s decision to strip HB 151 and HB 152 of their sports betting verbiage just three weeks after they received the bills.

The state Senate voted 22-11 in favor of the committees’ updates to both bills in March, but the House rejected the updates.

The state now needs to form a conference committee, which is responsible for resolving differences between the House and Senate when one chamber disagrees with amendments made to a previously approved piece of legislation.

The Alabama Senate selected Greg Albritton (R-22), Garlan Gudger (R-4), and Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-24) as its representatives to the conference committee, while the Alabama House chose Chris Blackshear (R-80), Sam Jones (D-99), and Rep. Andy Whitt (R-16).

Blackshear and Whitt were the main sponsors of the House’s proposals. Albritton orchestrated the Senate’s changes.

“The reason for [removing sports betting], frankly, is we do not have the votes to get those incorporated here. So what we have is a reduced package from what we received from the House to accommodate and to match what we can vote to get through,” Albritton previously said.

Notably, Singleton argued against the Senate’s changes. He questioned the motives for continuing to deny a legal sports betting market considering the potential tax funding that could come from legalization.

“We’re leaving a whole lot of money in the state,” said Singleton. “We know it’s going on in this state on a regular basis. Can someone explain that to me?”

The future of Alabama sports betting

Alabama Reflector reported that several members of the conference committee already met informally to discuss their plans for the future of sports betting. Reports also suggested that officials who were present at the meeting were more aligned with one another than first expected.

Alabama has until May 9 for both chambers to agree on a sports betting bill. Lawmakers are required to pass bills at least 10 days before the end of the legislative session, which falls on May 20.

The bill needs three-fifths approval in both chambers to progress to the November ballot, where state voters would decide its fate.

The House previously proposed the creation of the Alabama Gaming Commission, which would vet, license, and regulate all forms of gambling in the state (including those established through the passage of the bills). It would also create the Alabama Gaming Enforcement Division, which would work to eradicate nefarious operators and bookmakers from the state.

Sports betting operators selected for licensing, such as FanDuel, DraftKings, and others, would be taxed 17 percent of their net gaming revenue. 90 percent of that would go to the Gaming Trust Fund, and the remaining 10 percent would be disseminated to county commissions and used to fund the sheriff’s department.

Meanwhile, casinos would be granted 15-year licenses. Each license would cost a minimum of $5 million, and license periods could be extended if the casino company readies at least $500 million in capital investment at the operating site.

The bills also proposed a 24 percent tax rate on casinos’ net gaming revenue, 95 percent of which would go to the Gaming Trust Fund. A portion of the revenue would also go to local areas where the casinos are located.