Alabama has shot down every attempt to legalize sports betting within the state to this point. And guess what? Nothing has changed during the first half of 2022. Alabama has once again ignored an opportunity to officially sanction online sports betting, which will put the process on hold until at least 2023. And if experts are to be believed, it will probably be even longer than that.
Proponents of legal Alabama sports betting have been dealt another blow in their push to green light online gambling throughout the state. Alabama killed a bill in April that would have legalized online and retail sports betting across the region. And while this news was not unexpected, it has sent a sobering shockwave throughout the communities that support it: Alabama won't have legal sports betting available to their residents, in any form, until 2024.
Read that last line back, and it sounds like hyperbole. And indeed, that can happen when the news is still fresh. People and lawmakers who support sports gambling can overstate the impact of failed bids at the moment. But this isn't one of those times.
Those staunchly opposed to sports betting in Alabama don't seem to care about the potential revenue it can open up. They also don't seem to care that the USA has legal online sports betting in more than half of the 50 states already.
In all actuality, the majority of Alabama policymakers seem most concerned with maintaining the status quo. And if we're being brutally honest, that doesn't spell good news for those invested in bringing online sports betting to the Yellowhammer State.
Why Alabama Didn't Legalize Sports Betting This Year
A long track record of opposing legal sports betting hasn't stopped certain officials within Alabama from trying to stem the tide. The state has proposed multiple sports betting bills. The latest one, titled SB 294, actually made it through the Alabama Senate Tourism Committee with flying colors. All it needed was the approval of three-fifths of the majority from the Alabama House and Senate.
And yet, it didn't get the necessary support, erasing all hope of legal sports in Alabama for the foreseeable future.
Many saw the writing on the wall as far back as March. Heading into mid-April, SB 294 was deemed a long shot to survive. Still, others held out hope that the uniqueness of its setup would prevail. Not only would SB 294 have legalized sports betting, but it would have introduced a state lottery, which meant even more revenue for Alabama. We're talking millions of dollars...at least. Coming out of the coronavirus pandemic, that stream of cash could help replace revenue already lost in addition to offering extra financial support to educational and other government-backed programs.
Framed this way, Alabama sports betting sounds like a no-brainer. But the most stubborn skeptics are fearful of the impact it might have on the state. Alabama currently has no commercial casinos inside state lines. Legalizing sports betting would open the floodgates for those to crop up, and plans to build them would be much harder to stop if this precedent is taking place.
Can Alabama Legalize Sports Betting Before 2024?
Let's get to the number anyone with a vested interest in Alabama sports betting cares about: 2024.
Experts have pegged that as the earliest year in which Alabama can have legal sports betting available to their residents. It's a timeline that has many confused. Other places have been able to get sports betting approved and officially open much quicker, including states that, like Alabama, have resisted legalizing it on previous occasions.
However, Alabama poses a unique compilation of obstacles. Their lawmakers have so far insisted on legalizing sports betting through a constitutional amendment. Going this route means that after a sports betting bill receives at least three-fifths majority approval from the Alabama House and Senate, it must then be voted on by the citizens of the state during their major elections.
Had SB 294 passed, then, it would have appeared on the November 2022 ballot. With that ship having sailed, the next opportunity to call for a vote on legal sports betting won't be until November 2023. And given that it typically takes months and up to a year to get legal sports betting out and about, that leaves Alabama residents stranded inside the current status quo until the beginning, if not the end, of 2024.
Alabama Sports Bettors Can Still Place Online Wagers
None of this news is ideal for Alabama sports bettors. Luckily for them, they're not completely out of options.
Select offshore sportsbooks will still accept bets from people who sign up for an account. When dealing with international operations, though, it's incredibly important to choose the right site. That's why we've assembled an armory of reviews on the top online sportsbooks. We've done deep dives into all the major online sportsbook operators so that you can find one that only works if you live in Alabama or somewhere else, but one that also offers the best combination of sign-up and deposit bonuses, betting options, quick payouts and more.
For anyone in Alabama, this remains your best option for betting on sports. And it will probably stay that way for a couple of more years. Because barring a fundamental shift in how Alabama conducts local politics, history suggests the state may even fail to legalize sports betting by 2024.
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that will accept bets placed within your region:
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