Efforts to Legalize Alabama Sports Betting May be on the Rise in 2024

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
Efforts to Legalize Alabama Sports Betting May be on the Rise in 2024

For quite some time, the legalization of Alabama sports betting has been portrayed as a long shot. As it turns out, that may be about to change in 2024.

To be absolutely, there is no guarantee that sports betting in Alabama will get legalized next year. Plenty of hurdles remain. But Senator Greg Albritton recently went on record and said that the exploration of sports gambling throughout The Crimson State will be a priority when the legislature convenes in 2024.

What is it, exactly, that Senator Albritton said? And why should we believe that next year will be different from other sessions, in which the subject of sports betting was broached but never pushed through?

Most importantly, assuming Alabama is ready to have more extensive talks about the legalization of sports betting, what roadblocks must they clear? 

Senator Greg Albritton Says Support for Alabama Sports Betting is Growing Among State Officials

In a recent interview with Legal Sports Report’s Pat Evans, Senator Albritton explained that he intends to sponsor a Alabama gaming bill that includes sports betting. He also acknowledged that support for the measure has grown since last year among key officials. And yet, he doesn’t sound so sure that uptick in advocacy will get the job done.

Here are the full details of the conversation, courtesy of Evans:

“There is a united effort to legalize Alabama sports betting shaping up, according to one of the state’s strongest proponents. Sen. Greg Albritton told LSR last week he is awaiting a comprehensive gaming package from House leadership that would include Alabama sports betting. Albritton sponsored gambling bills the past two sessions, and Senate efforts stalled out in the House twice in five years. Albritton said there is strong support, including from Governor Kay Ivey, for Alabama sports betting, but it is impossible to predict 2024 legislative results. Because the Alabama Constitution prohibits gambling, there is an added hurdle of needing voter approval following legislative success.

“‘I hope [that it passes],’ Albritton said. ‘I can guarantee this, though: if we get a good piece of legislation, it will be difficult. As we make one person happy, we’ll make three mad. It will be a difficult move.’”

Getting Governor Ivey’s outright support would be a monumental development. She has never exactly registered as the state’s strongest opponent to sports betting. At best, though, she has straddled the fence on the issue.

Will the Alabama House of Representatives Support a Sports Betting Bill? 

It is unclear whether an endorsement from Governor Ivey will sentiment within the Alabama House of Representatives. Back in 2021, an Alabama sports betting bill was actually approved by the Senate. After that, it met intense opposition inside the House. 

Many experts believe that collective stance will endure in 2024. Officials inside the House have expressed concerns about how Alabama sports betting would impact the state’s bingo halls. Others are outright against the practice of gambling in general and worried about the socioeconomic impact on lower-income neighborhoods more at risk of predatory marketing.

Make no mistake, most of the underlying worries are valid. Every state that has legalized sports betting considers them. And not one has successfully solved most of them, let alone all of them.

But to date, more than 35 states have found a middle ground with which they are comfortable. And it stands to reason that Alabama can do the same.

A key component of this push to approve sports betting in The Crimson State: making its rollout retail only. The latest Alabama sports betting measure will not allow online sportsbooks in the United States to enter the market. That will be viewed as a bummer by gambling enthusiasts who aren’t within close proximity to a retail location. But it’s also considered a non-negotiable sticking point at this stage.

Would Voters Approve of an Alabama Sports Betting Bill on the 2024 Electoral Ballot?

Of course, getting an Alabama sports betting initiative through the House and Senate is merely part of the battle. The state needs their voting population to be in favor of it, as well. 

That answer would come during the 2024 general election. And many aren’t optimistic that voters would green light retail sports betting in Alabama.

Then again, multiple polls over the past couple of years have shown that Alabama residents are open to the formation of a state lottery. As it just so happens, the creation of a state lottery is also part of this gaming package. That could be an attempt to entice voters on the fence to allowing sports betting legislation to go through. 

Still, that step of the process is a ways off. Alabama first needs their state officials to find common ground on the latest piece of sports betting legislation. That in itself is a monster question mark. This is always the case when dealing with a state that skews heavily conservative on the political spectrum.

Answers will come in short order, though. The Alabama state legislation is scheduled to begin their meetings on Monday, March 11 and adjourn on Monday, June 3. We will know within that window whether sports betting in The Crimson State has a chance. And just as important, if the bill fails, we’ll hopefully understand the primary reasons why.

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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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