Nick Saban’s Retirement to Inspire Sports Betting Change in the South?

USA Legal Betting


  • Nick Saban won six national championships at Alabama
  • The University of Alabama grew economically because of Saban’s success
  • Whichever school can seize the SEC throne could become an economic powerhouse

Alabama football coach Nick Saban announced his retirement on Wednesday, bringing an end to one of the most illustrious careers in college football history. 

Saban was not only responsible for leading his teams to six national championships, but he completely changed the economics of the University of Alabama and the state itself. His departure will lead to an inevitable power shift within the region across multiple industries. 

So, could Nick Saban’s retirement actually affect the future of sports betting in the South? We’d argue that yes, it can.

Saban’s impact at Alabama 

Allow us to pay our respects to Saban by highlighting his major successes.

The 72-year-old was hired by ‘Bama in 2007 after one year of service with the Miami Dolphins. He’d already won a national championship at LSU and joined the Crimson Tide on an eight-year contract that made him one of the highest-paid coaches in collegiate and professional football.

The next 17 years were filled with nothing other than outright dominance as Alabama became perennial contenders, won nine SEC championships, and captured six national titles. 

Tickets to all eight Alabama home games in 2006, the year before Saban arrived, cost $320. In 2023, that number jumped to $450, a 40.6% spike. 

But while Saban’s on-field success could not be ignored, his impact away from the game also completely transformed the school.

According to school records, 25,580 students enrolled in Alabama’s 2007 fall semester. Fast forward to 2023 and the school claimed 39,263 enrollees, a 53.5% increase, far beyond the national average increase of 3.7% (per the Education Data Initiative).

Alabama’s overwhelming popularity amongst sports fans also helped it grow, and eventually, market, to a national audience.

In 2007, less than one-third of incoming freshmen identified as out-of-state residents—but by 2022, 57.9% of UA’s students were from outside the local border.

The current cost of a year’s tuition at Alabama is $11,100 for local residents and $32,400, close to three times as expensive, for out-of-state students. Thereby, the increase in the percentage of students from states other than Alabama combined with the growth of the student body helped the school become an economic powerhouse.

The University’s growth also helped the state economy flourish. According to, the state had a GDP of $173 billion in 2007 compared to $277.8 billion in 2022 (a 60.6% increase).

A region destined for change?

What does all of this have to do with sports wagering?

Legal sports betting is the fastest-growing entertainment sector in America. The American Gaming Association noted that legal sportsbooks accepted nearly $80 billion in wagers from January 2023 to September 2023 and estimated that the end-of-year total would exceed $100 billion. States with successful nearby sports teams often proved to be the most profitable.

The booming industry already led to 38 states plus Washington D.C. legalizing local markets to further catalyze their economies. 

Ironically, Alabama is one of 12 states that have not passed any legislation, though lawmakers are prepared to revisit the topic during the 2024 session. 

Alabama is also just one of several southern states that have not legalized sports betting. Others include Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas

Saban’s retirement is likely to swing the pendulum of power even further in the direction of Georgia, which won the SEC and College Football Playoff in 2022 and 2023. Should it come to dominate the sport as Alabama did, it’s reasonable for it to expect a similar groundswell in support and economic stimulus. 

The University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas also have opportunities to grow as they prepare to enter the SEC for the first time later this year. Texas in particular is under added pressure to legalize sports betting because of Mark Cuban’s recent decision to sell the Dallas Mavericks to Las Vegas Sands owner, Miriam Adelson.

Meanwhile, schools in pro-sports betting states such as Ole Miss (Mississippi) and LSU (Louisiana) will also vie for the somewhat-vacant throne in the SEC (which Georgia has already taken steps toward claiming). Their success will drastically impact the ceiling for local sports betting markets, which could lead to further infrastructural development, business development, and much more. 

A Senate committee in Georgia recently voted to advance a bill that would legalize sports betting, sending it to the Senate for a full debate. However, it’s unclear if this bill is any more likely to receive the necessary support than past ideas were during the 2023 session.

Texas lawmakers have shown more interest in discussing the legalization of sports betting and gambling, but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who controls the Senate, has remained steadfast in his opposition to such measures.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.