Alabama Sports Betting Gets Removed from 2024 Gaming Proposal

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Mar 7, 2024 07:00 PM
Alabama Sports Betting Gets Removed from 2024 Gaming Proposal

Go ahead and wave goodbye to Alabama sports betting hopes in 2024

We think.

Entering 2024 state legislature meetings, two proposals that created a state lottery and legalized sports betting in Alabama were on the table. And not only were they on the table, but they were viewed as legitimate possibilities. State officials and experts throughout the industry lauded the effort as Alabama’s most aggressive attempt to legalize sports gambling yet.

Less than one month later, though, multiple reports suggest that Alabama state officials have stripped sports betting from both gaming bills. The proposals are now apparently geared only toward the inception of an Alabama state lottery and some expansion of casino gaming. 

What went wrong? What does the 2024 Alabama gambling bill even look like now? Is there any chance that sports betting could be baked back into the equation?

These are just some of the many questions that must be answered.

Why Did Officials Yanking Alabama Sports Betting from the Latest Gambling Bills?

According to an extensive breakdown from Pat Evans of Legal Sports Report, a perceived lack of support in the Senate prompted The Crimson State to move on from their Alabama sports betting push. Here are the full details:

“Lawmakers stripped Alabama sports betting and casinos out of a comprehensive gaming package Tuesday in an effort to pass the Senate. The Senate Tourism Committee amended the pair of House bills, HB 151 and HB 152, that authorize an Alabama Lottery…Because gambling requires a constitutional amendment, the legislation needs 60% of voters in the Senate, concurrence by the House and voter approval

Sen. Bobby Singleton [was] asked why the new language does not include sports betting. He said the package is to help eliminate illegal betting, and sports betting already happens in the state. Sen. Greg Albritton said it just isn’t in the cards right now. ‘We are aware that we have sports betting in the state going on, same thing with online betting,’ he said. ‘Neither of those issues are being addressed in this package, and the reason for it frankly is because we do not have the votes to get those incorporated here.’”

Essentially, it seems like the lack of concern is mostly about online sportsbooks in the United States entering the market. Too many members of the Senate ostensibly believe there isn’t enough regulation in place to legalize it. 

However, they also admit that sports betting in Alabama already happens despite it being legal. Accepting that without also taking steps to prevent it in the current gaming bill doesn’t make much sense. 

So, What Exactly is the Point of the Alabama Gaming Bill without Sports Gambling?

Now that sports betting appears to be a no-go, HB 151 and HB 152 mostly seem to be tackling the formation of a state lottery. Even aggressive expansion of casino gaming laws has now been scuttled.

Granted, either proposal would allow Governor Kay Ivey to negotiate a casino gaming compact directly with tribes. Or should we say tribe, as in singular? Only the Poarch Band of Creek Indians are included in the new language. So while a gaming compact with them could culminate in full service Alabama casinos, it will not result in more flexible laws across the board.

This will come as a bummer to anyone who wanted to legally bet on sports in Alabama. And at this point, it’s tough to discount their disappointment. Around 40 states, plus the District of Columbia, are expected to have some form of legal sports betting by the end of 2024. Another failed attempt by Alabama would put them in a super minority that’s growing smaller by the year.

More than that, The Crimson State is not Idaho. Or Utah. Or Alaska. There are all states without legal sports betting that have shown minimal to no interest in changing their stance. Alabama, on the other hand, has introduced and discussed and voted upon multiple pieces of sports betting legislation over the years. To see them repeatedly zero in on it without ever getting over the hump has to be infuriating for sports betting proponents in The Crimson State.

The Status of Alabama Sports Betting in 2024 Can Still Change

To be sure, all hope for Alabama online sports betting in 2024 isn’t necessarily lost. The state legislature can convene all the way up until June 3. That gives them plenty of time to reverse course on the current decision.

And to that end, many believe they just might. The House of Representatives needs to accept the amendments made to their bills. The expectation is that they’ll reject them. This could pave the way for additional bargaining that gets the legalization of Alabama sports gambling back on the 2024 electoral-ballot path.

Then again, maybe not. If the House does reject these changes, there’s a chance, perhaps a strong likelihood, that it has a snowball effect. Rather than re-introduce legal sports betting language, both HB 151 and 152 could entirely fall apart. And if that happens, Alabama would not only fail to green light sports gambling. They would also fail to create a state lottery and make any changes to the current casino-gaming laws.

All of this makes Alabama a state to watch in the coming months. Heck, it makes them a state to watch in the coming weeks and days. The status of sports betting debates in Alabama has always changed fast. More curveballs could be on the horizon. Whether these audibles end up helping or erasing their sports betting efforts, though, remains to be seen.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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