January 22, 2024 3 min read

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Alabama Legislators Gear Up for Sweeping Gaming Reforms

The Yellowhammer State may soon introduce a landmark bill legalizing Class III casino gaming, a state lottery, and sports betting

Alabama lawmakers will convene on 6 February to deliberate on a comprehensive gaming bill that could usher in a new era for the state’s gambling landscape. The proposed legislation aims to introduce many of the most common types of gambling and institute the formation of an Alabama Gaming Commission, a brand-new regulatory body.

Gambling in Alabama Remains a Contentious Topic

Alabama’s constitution currently prohibits gambling, but there are 18 constitutional amendments allowing specific forms of gaming in certain regions. The legality of these provisions has long been a matter of contention among officials. However, unified gaming legislation should finally settle the matter and significantly expand available wagering options while introducing updated customer protection standards.

Governor Kay Ivey’s 2020 Study Group on Gambling Policy Report reveals that the potential windfall from gambling could reach up to $710 million annually. A lottery could generate $200-300 million, casino gaming $300-400 million, and sports betting $10 million. Revenue generated from taxes and fees under this bill would contribute to the Education Budget and the General Fund Budget.

Updated Regulations Should Create a Level Playing Field

Local news outlet 1819 News revealed that the upcoming bill likely intends to repeal all 18 constitutional amendments related to gambling. Additionally, the legislation aims to intensify efforts against illegal gaming, upgrading it from a misdemeanor to a felony with substantial financial penalties. Penalties for repeated offenses will also see an increase.

The bill proposes allowing Class III gaming in specific areas through an open-bidding process, replacing existing constitutional amendments. These areas include locations on federally recognized tribal lands operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Birmingham, Macon County, Greene County, Lowndes County, Houston County, Mobile County, and an undetermined county in Northeast Alabama.

Alabama Voters Will Have the Final Say

Each Class III gaming operation licensed by the commission may apply for one sports gaming license. The commission will issue all other sports gaming licenses not associated with a Class III gaming establishment with provisions for online sports betting. Other forms of online gaming will remain prohibited, but this measure still marks substantial progress.

Officials stress that this bill would not legalize gambling in Alabama without input from state voters but rather substantially reduce the number of gambling establishments due to the crackdown on illegal gaming. As a constitutional amendment, the bill would need a three-fifths majority in both legislative chambers, followed by a successful referendum, likely during the November general election.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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