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Casinos, Sports Betting Stripped From Bill In Alabama

Lottery, Some Gaming Regulation Still Included

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Fans of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide may have to wait before legally making a bet on the powerhouse football team in the state.

After the Alabama house recently approved a bill authorizing a voter referendum for additional casinos, sports betting, and a lottery, the senate greatly curtailed those ambitions last week. The casino and sports betting sections of the bill were removed and senators are now only considering the addition of a lottery.

The senate bill does include a few gaming-related efforts to oversee the lottery and other forms of gambling already allowed. That includes creating a gaming commission charged with limiting, regulating, and taxing the industry.

“Those are the things that we’re trying to get started with and capturing that, controlling it, regulating it, getting the enforcement division set up and doing our job as a state to control this industry,” said Sen. Greg Albritton®, the bill’s sponsor.

Details On The Changes

Supporters in the senate hope the changes can produce support from 21 of the legislative body’s 35 senators, the number needed to move forward with a vote on a constitutional amendment.

Alabama is one of only five states without a state lottery. The state does have three casinos owned and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The senate bill would now also repeal local constitutional amendments allowing various types of gaming and would bar allowing them in the future.

Instead, the lottery, pari-mutuel wagering at racetracks and other venues, and charitable gaming would all be overseen by the new gaming commission. The bill would also set a tax rate from 24 and 32% on simulcast betting and slot-like historical horse racing games. Traditional casino gaming away from the tribal properties would not be allowed, however.

The plan would allow the governor to negotiate compacts with the Poarch for casino gambling at the tribe’s three casinos, which now only offer electronic bingo slot-like games. Albritton said some senators had concerns with underage gambling, leading to sports betting being removed from the bill.

“The most common (concern) was the fear that this would draw in youth too rapidly and too egregiously and too openly,” Albritton said.

The changes also include moving the date for voters to decide on the constitutional amendment needed to approve the plan to Sept. 10 rather than the traditional date of Election Day in November.

The house proposal would have given the green light for up to seven casinos and also allow for live and online sports wagering. If the senate passes its version, the issue would then go to a conference committee to reach a deal on the final proposal. Gov. Kay Ivey® expressed support for the original house bill, but her office plans on reviewing the senate version now as well.