Officials Still Fighting for Alabama Sports Betting to Get Put to Vote in 2024

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Mar 13, 2024 08:00 PM
Officials Still Fighting for Alabama Sports Betting to Get Put to Vote in 2024

There is apparently still hope for Alabama sports betting in 2024. Is it real hope? Slim hope? That much isn’t yet sure. But the issue, for now, remains alive.

This runs counter to the most recent developments during legislature meetings in The Crimson State. Last week, the Senate removed Alabama sports betting and casino gaming from a pair of bills that passed through the House of Representatives with ease. These changes were initially expected to scuttle Alabama sports gambling attempts altogether. But certain officials inside the state are still trying to ensure at least one of these Alabama sports wagering bills can be put before voters in a special election on September 10, 2024.

Will these attempts be successful? What needs to happen for the Senate majority to reconsider their current position on sports betting in Alabama? And above all, what’s the brutal-honest truth about the chances of either house gambling bills making it to the finish line? 

Upon learning that legal Alabama sports betting was removed from House Bill 151 and House Bill 152, gambling advocates expressed disappointment that the Senate didn’t trust voters to take this matter into their own hands. Will 

Residents Getting Vocal About the Alabama Sports Betting Debate

Joseph King of MPG.org spoke with a few Alabamanians while also breaking down the current status of The Crimston State sports betting discussion. This excerpt from his piece caught our attention:

“Musto is an avid Detroit Lions fan and even went to the brewery wearing his team’s ball cap and jersey, despite the Lions not making the big game. But on this day, he’s a Chiefs fan for one reason — money. ‘I put money on the Chiefs [to win the Super Bowl in 2024],’ said Musto, who divulged that he made his wagers on the game via an online betting app and with a bookie.

Sports betting in Alabama is illegal, but Musto’s gamble shows that the law hasn’t stopped people from trying to do it. Last year, the online gambling company FanDuel blocked at least two million attempts by Alabamians to place a bet online, according to Christian Genetsky, the company’s president and a Birmingham native. When those bets were blocked, Genetsky said people likely drove to neighboring states like Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida or Tennessee where sports betting is already legal, or switched to an illegal, offshore site.”

The whole “sports betting happens in Alabama anyway” argument is not new. It is why the state has tried legalizing it on multiple occasions. But the matter has never made it to a voter ballot. Many who spoke with Mr. King believes that needs to change. This includes Nick Coleman, an Alabamian who was interviewed while watching the Super Bowl in February.

“If that’s what I want to do, let me do it,’ Coleman said. “At least put the power in the hands of the people in the state to choose if that’s what they want to do.”

Why Did the Alabama Senate Amend the House’s Sports Gambling Package in the First Place?

At the very least, interest in Alabama sports betting appears to be on the rise. And with that in mind, it’s a little bit puzzling that the Senate extricated it from consideration for the time being. The collective reasoning, as always, cannot be boiled down to one reason. But the biggest issue seems to be the role online sportsbooks in the United States play in the uptick in gambling addiction.

Multiple officials have said they don’t think the 2024 Alabama sports betting bills did enough to address problem wagering. Others, meanwhile, lamented that the proposals failed to adequately reconcile illegal sports betting in Alabama.

Each of these concerns is beyond fair. Problem gambling hotlines routinely report higher call volumes once states legalize sports betting. And no state has figured out how to effectively curtail, let alone eradicate, illegal sports betting. 

Gambling proponents will argue that the launch of legal Alabama sports betting would help with the latter issue. People generally only explore illegal means of sports betting because their state doesn’t allow it. By giving residents access to both on-site and online sports betting in Alabama, they eliminate a lion’s share of the need for gamblers to tap into unsafe wagering methods.

Granted, this doesn’t dissuade illegal betting altogether. But no moral or financial dilemma is 100 percent preventable. Detrimental loopholes and exemptions will always exist. 

What’s Next for the Alabama Sports Betting Bills?

This is not to say all Alabamanians should support sports betting. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. But if Senate members are holding out for a foolproof answer to illegal sports wagering, they’re going to be waiting for eternity. 

To that end, it makes sense for a proposal, of any kind, to at least be put in front of voters. Residents should have the ability to give their say. That's the entire point of democracy. 

For the time being, though, the fate of Alabama sports betting lies in the Senate’s hands. And for them to change their tune, House members will likely need to counter-amend HB 151 and/or HB 152 or find a way to sway the Senate on their current legalization structure. 

Rest assured, plenty of legislative members intend to explore their course. But whether we can expect any material change in the Senate stance on Alabama sports betting is anyone’s guess. 

History, for what it’s worth, suggests they won’t. Other Alabama sports betting initiatives have died at their hands in the past. That implies their opinion on the matter is, collectively, set. So while attempts to legalize Alabama sports gambling in 2024 aren’t yet dead, they do seem to be life support.

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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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