Alabama sports betting bill takes a giant step to the House
A comprehensive bill establishing legalized sports betting, casino-style gambling and a state lottery in Alabama was approved by several state committees today and will be sent to the floor of the House of Representatives.
The main bill, SB 319, received a favorable report from the Alabama Ways and Means Education Committee earlier in the day before being approved by the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee and sent to the floor. If approved by the House, state residents will have a chance to vote on the legalization of Alabama sports betting in the November 2022 general election.
Setting up a potential vote on Alabama sports betting in 2022
If approved by voters, an Alabama Education Lottery Corporation will be created to operate a state lottery in Alabama. Alabama is only one of five states in the country not to have a state lottery system.
The senate passed the constitutional amendment (and three companion bills) by a 23-9 vote earlier this month.
“There are three facts we can all agree to, whether we support the legislation or not. One is, gambling exists in the state of Alabama today, that’s a fact. Number two, it’s mostly unregulated, especially at the state level. It’s mostly unregulated, especially unregulated at the state level. The third fact is the state sees no revenue from the gambling that takes place in the state of Alabama today,” Rep. Chris Blackshear (R-80) said during the Ways and Means Education Committee meeting today.
Former Alabama Treasurer Young Boozer spoke in favor of the bill and presented a report on potential revenues the state could expect if signed into law. Boozer, a member of Gov. Kay Ivey’s study group on gambling policy, said the state could see between $510 million to $710 million in annual revenue if the bill was approved.
“It is my opinion that gaming will work in Alabama and it will be worth it,” he said.
Representative Reed Ingram (R-75) spoke against the bill and said it would be rushed if approved today. The public has had limited opportunity to discuss the bill with the legislature and the state lawmakers would not be doing their due diligence by acting so quickly.
Ingram also shared concerns about potential corruption in college football if sports betting were legalized.
“In sports gaming, have we talked to any coaches, the Alabama coach or Auburn’s coach, on how they like this? How it may affect their players and possibly cause some corruption?” he asked during the meeting.
Bill will allow for Alabama sports betting and lottery if approved
The bill’s movement came just two weeks after State Representative Tracy Estes (R-17) spoke on The Jeff Poor Show and said he would be very surprised if the sports betting bill did not receive a vote in the House of Representatives.
Proceeds from the lottery would be deposited in a lottery trust fund for education purposes and scholarship programs. The bill sets the sports betting tax rate at 20%, with the ability to increase the rate every five years by a maximum of 2% each time. The tax rate ceiling is set at 30%.
The legislation, SB 319, would allow casino-style gaming and sports wagering operated only at sites in Jefferson County, Mobile County, Macon County, Green County, Houston County and Jackson or DeKalb County, and on lands held in trust for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians pursuant to a compact.
The amendment would also create the Alabama Gaming Commission to supervise the conduct of sports wagering and casino-style games, as well as bingo and raffles, in the state.
The Alabama Gaming Commission would adopt rules governing the licensing, administration and conduct of sports wagering. It would also require the governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Licenses would be awarded for sports wagering and casino-style games for specified terms after a competitive bidding process is established by the commission. Meanwhile, a tax rate would be set on the net gaming revenues of the operations, except operations on lands held in trust for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.