To say the push for legal sports betting in Alabama has been a whirlwind would be a massive understatement. On the contrary, the debate surrounding the legalization of Alabama sports betting and various other forms of gambling has unfolded more like a whisper. It is talked about, sure. But the subject is tackled in hushed, often unconvincing, tones.
Take the latest bill to legalize sports betting throughout Alabama. Though it existed, it barely garnered any time on the floor of the House of Representatives. Despite an overwhelming number of places in the United States opting to legalize sports betting, Alabama has so far resisted. And their stance against it hasn't been on the fringes or subject to waffling. It is staunch.
However, a recent report on the potential earnings of legal sports betting and other forms of gambling might be the impetus to change everything.
Emphasis on might be.
Alabama Sports Betting is Worth More Than You Think
When most people from this region think about the potential for sports betting, they don't see a lucrative outlook. After all, the state isn't home to any professional sports franchise from one of the major North American leagues. Their biggest draw is the Crimson Tide football team from the University of Alabama. That has to mean this isn't a market currently missing out on too much potential revenue. Right?
Opponents of Alabama sports tend to harp on this exact argument. But that view is narrow. Alabama residents are fans of all sports. They have been known to invest in the NFL. In particular, Alabamans root for teams from nearby states, including the Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans and even the New Orleans Saints. It is foolish to believe that the introduction of legal Alabama sports betting wouldn't be an instant moneymaker.
To wit: According to a report from Alabama.com (special thanks to Legal Sports Report for their summation of it), legal sports betting could generate up to $700 million in revenue per year. That number should leap off the page even for the most enthusiastic optimists. We're talking about nearly three quarters of a billion dollars! And not only that, but the report also estimates the legalization of Alabama sports betting could contribute to creating 12,000 jobs throughout the state.
Why Alabama Sports Betting Revenue Projections Are So High
You're probably wondering how and why Alabama sports betting revenue projections are so high. It has everything to do with infrastructure.
See, the key to legalizing sports betting throughout Alabama lies with the state lottery. This is to say, they need to create a state lottery to facilitate the possible arrival of sports betting. As of now, because they only have three casinos and no state lottery, Alabama doesn't have any specific commission or governmental branch in place to simply green light sports betting and roll it out. They need to form a hierarchy, and most states have funneled their sports betting operations through the lottery system, which is a lucrative money-maker on its own.
To top it all off, Alabama also needs to increase the number of casinos currently operating within state lines to make sports betting a reality. Without three tribal-owned establishments currently on the map, they don't have the brick-and-mortar reach necessary to ensure all residents have access to on-site sports. Alabama could always make an online footprint the focus of their sports betting bill, but the most profitable markets have implemented both at the same time.
Opening up a handful of other casinos in tandem with the roll out of sports betting would create a boatload of jobs in the state. Casinos need staff to run their operations, and neighborhoods with casinos can typically count on increased foot traffic inside nearby restaurants, hotels and shops. The number of jobs created would rise exponentially if Alabama allows a commercial casino to construct and open a resort. Going that route would allow them to tap into the tourist or getaway gamblers market rather than just commuter bettors.
When Might Alabama Legalize Gambling?
Let's be clear: There is no timetable for betting in Alabama. If residents are looking to place wagers, they're better off traveling to another state or signing up with one of the sites from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks.
At the same time, legal sports betting could be closer than you think.
While the latest sports betting bill didn't receive a ton of support, the governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, is a known supporter. Many believe she would have worked harder to push through legislation if it wasn't an election year in 2022.
Could this mean that Alabama makes strides toward legal sports betting in 2023? It's possible. They certainly haven't shown the biggest distaste for the subject relative to other holdout states. But we'd be remiss to suggest this process could wrap up quickly. The formation of a state lottery system adds extra time to any prospective rollout. The same goes for the licensing and construction casinos.
At this rate, the soonest Alabama could hope to approve and implement legal sports betting is roughly 2025. That seems like forever away, but it's much closer than the 2027 or 2028 projections many experts were spitting out this past spring. Luckily, we'll know more about the fate of sports betting in Alabama once this November's elections are over.
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