Alabama Senate Removes Sports Betting from Two Gambling Bills

Grant Mitchell
Grant Mitchell
USA Legal Betting


  • Sports betting was removed to try to preserve votes
  • Voters will vote during a special election, not the general election
  • Estimates suggested Alabama’s gambling market (with sports betting) could generate $800m annually

Alabama lawmakers advanced two bills to the Senate floor on Tuesday, but unfortunately for prospective sports bettors, all language involving sports wagering was removed from both. 

The Alabama Senate Tourism Committee passed HB 151 and HB 152 but with numerous changes, most notably the total disregard for sports betting. They also reduced the number of possible tribal casinos to just three.

The news represents a one-step forward, two-step back phenomenon for the sports betting industry and Alabama’s gaming ecosystem, which is virtually nonexistent.

Reason for changes 

Sen. Greg Albritton (R-22), who is sponsoring the bills in the Senate, said the changes were made in an effort to reduce objections from dissenting lawmakers and ensure Alabama can establish a larger gambling market, even if it is smaller than first proposed. 

Alabama sports betting ultimately became a victim of the changes because it is still a controversial topic in the religious South despite 38 states already offering such services.

The bills now call for the creation of a regulatory agency called the Alabama Gaming Commission, a state lottery, parimutuel betting on dog and horse racing, and three tribal casinos. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey also must agree to a gaming deal with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

“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,” said Albritton. 

The committee discussed amending the bills during its meeting last week.

According to the original proposals, Alabama would create up to 10 casinos, a state lottery, and a market for both retail and online sports betting sites.

Several committee members, including Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-24), argued against the changes. One of the common themes of the protests was that the state is losing out on a huge amount of potential tax funding by continuing to outlaw sports betting, which only leads to higher activity in the illegal gambling market. 

“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?”

Looking ahead 

Now that the bills are awaiting a decision on the Senate floor, they are just a three-fifths vote away from returning to the House. That means 21 of 35 senators must vote in favor of the bills.

If that happens, the House will have to re-vote on the bills in light of the Senate’s changes to them. They can either agree to the changes or send the bills back to a committee to form a compromise between the original proposals and the versions sent back by the Senate. 

One of the main topics of conversation will center on the amended tax rate of 24-32% proposed by the Senate. This tax would be charged to authorized gambling centers in Greene, Jefferson, Macon, and Mobile Counties, along with bingo halls in Houston County and White Hall.

Revenue earned through Alabama gaming until March 30, 2029, would be directed toward improving the state’s general infrastructure. After that date passes, one-third of the revenue would go to education, one-third to the government, and one-third to transportation projects.

Cities and counties where gambling facilities operate would receive three percent of net revenue, while one percent would go toward addressing problem gambling. 

Per the terms of the amended bills, voters would cast their opinions during a special election on September 10 instead of the general election in November. 

The Legislative Services Agency previously estimated that a full-fledged Alabama gambling market that included sports betting could generate more than $800 million in annual revenue.