Alabama State Lottery Could Be Key to Legalizing Online Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jul 13, 2022 08:00 PM
Alabama State Lottery Could Be Key to Legalizing Online Sports Betting

After another failed attempt to legalize sports betting in Alabama at the latest legislative sessions, many are holding out hope the state will change their tune by 2023. In reality, though, the key to sports betting in Alabama may be the approval and construction of an Alabama state lottery.

Make no mistake, they don't need a state lottery to authorize sports betting. They just need support from government officials to put pro-gambling initiatives on a state ballot. This is why 2023 has been pegged as Alabama's next chance to green light sports betting. That's when all the necessary committees are next scheduled to meet. And by then, there will be legal sports betting in the United States for just about everyone.

Already, as it stands, more than 30 states have made the leap. Alabama could be under pressure to follow the lead of what, in 2023, could be a list of 40 states. To do so, though, they may first need to implement a state lottery. Without one, experts fear the wait for online sports betting in Alabama could be longer than anyone anticipated—a matter of years.

Why an Alabama State Lottery is Necessary for Sports Betting

Most don't actually know this, but state lottery systems are generally charged with overseeing the installation of legal sports betting once it has been approved. It makes sense, since they already represent a gambling sector and have preexisting ties to tribal operated casinos.

Funneling the business of sports betting through state lottery systems also spares the government from setting up different departments. They can simply create new jobs, roles and responsibilities within the lottery system. This model can be problematic for states without lottery systems, but those exceptions are few and far between. As of this writing, 45 of the 50 states have lottery systems set up. They are common even in regions that have yet to show any interest in legalizing sports betting.

Incidentally, all five of the states without lotteries also don't have legal sports betting—Alabama among them. That absence is part of what makes pushing any pro-gambling initiatives forward so hard. States that are reluctant to bring in online betting certainly won't want to go through the trouble of cobbling together a brand new governmental infrastructure.

To be fair, firing up a state lottery wouldn't spare Alabama from traveling through those logistical motions. They would have to set up the state lottery from scratch, since they don't already have one.

Still, that process can be useful because it informs what to expect from the legalization of sports betting. Not only would Alabama have experience opening up an entire gambling sector, but the interest shown in the state lottery among residents can help officials tell whether there will be enough patrons of legal sports betting.

Is an Alabama State Lottery on the Table?

The good news? Approving and implementing an Alabama state lottery can be done at any time with the requisite approval. Unlike sports betting, it is not a matter that typically needs to make it on to a residential ballot, and amendments to the constitution needn't be finagled for it to take effect. States can set it up at their discretion, provided there is enough urgency and support behind it.

The bad news? Much like their lack of interest in discussing the issue of legal sports betting, an Alabama state lottery has also failed to register as a priority. Alabama government officials remain concerned that a state lottery will have negative effects on low-income neighborhoods. It is a concern that spills over to the matter of legal sports betting, since commercial sportsbooks tend to advertise in communities that are low-income and known to spend more money on lottery tickets.

Most recently, Alabama has joined Idaho in citing a study conducted by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland that effectively proved how much of a negative financial impact state lotteries and casinos have on needy communities. The results are bound to be a roadblock to any sports betting debate.

Alabama Sports Betting Still Years Away...At Least

At the end of the day, the future of sports betting in Alabama boils down to this: Without an Alabama state lottery, there will be no legal gambling.

Indeed, the state can try running the sports betting infrastructure through tribal casinos, much like Florida did when it legalized wagering (only to eventually repeal it). But Alabama doesn't have the casinos necessary to go that route. There are only three in the entire state, and it takes a much larger presence to drum up in-person betting profits and build an online-gambling system. Even those in Alabama open to legal sports betting will note it's not worth the sweat and financial equity when the reach on gambling in Alabama would be on the lower end.

Given all of this, we would be mildly surprised if sports betting comes to The Cotton State anytime soon. Never mind 2023. Achieving the legalization of online sports betting by 2025 is a more realistic goal—and still ambitious.

Luckily, sports betting enthusiasts from Alabama aren't completely out of options. There are neighboring states they can travel to that have legal sports betting. Plenty of the reputable sites from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks will also allow United States customers from anywhere to register for and begin using an account.

Failing those alternatives, all people in Alabama can do is wait for the erection of a state lottery and legal sports betting to gain traction. Just know that, at this rate, you're going to be waiting quite a while.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that will work for all of your sports betting needs:

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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