Alabama Sports Betting

alabama sports betting

As a state that has been historically opposed to gambling of any kind, it is little surprise that Alabama is one of the states still to legalize sports wagering. Of course, both lawmakers and citizens of the Yellowhammer State have been against gambling in the past. Still, there is no denying that attitudes are changing, particularly regarding Alabama sports betting.

The rollout of sports betting across neighboring states, including Mississippi, will undoubtedly cause lawmakers to reconsider their position. Several bills have failed to pass through the State’s House and Senate, but that does not mean we won’t one day see betting here.

The reintroduction of daily fantasy sports in 2019 and the passionate support of college football in this state are both key indicators that the citizens of Alabama might be more open to the concept of sports betting than would appear.

A bill titled “The Gambling Control Bill” was passed by the Senate Tourism Committee in early March 2022, bringing legalized sports betting in Alabama one step closer to being a reality in the state.

With this in mind, what is the current state of sports betting in Alabama?

Current Online Sports Betting Situation in Alabama

Alabama is one of the most conservative states in the USA when it comes to gambling, a fact that can be seen in the fact that they do not even have a state lottery. While some betting is permitted in the form of tribal casinos owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, as allowed under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. Pari-mutuel events such as horse and greyhound racing are also permitted.

However, it is sports betting that is of interest to most. Mississippi’s resort town of Biloxi is only a few hours’ drive from most Alabaman cities, and sports betting is fully legal in the Magnolia State. Anyone who wished to place a bet legally would only have to cross state borders. It is thought that legal Alabama sports betting could potentially bring in around $10 million in tax revenue – revenue currently going into the pockets of bookies operating illegally or to states like Mississippi and Nevada that have fully legalized sports betting.

There have been several attempts to legalize Alabama sports betting, but they have not made it past the House of Representatives or the State Senate. All gambling in the USA is managed on a state level, not a federal one. If the government of Alabama cannot pass a bill, there is little to no chance of safe and legal gambling gaining any traction.

Offshore Alabama Sportsbooks

Alabama, like the majority of states across the country, does not have any specific laws regarding real money sports betting. As a result, the only legal way to place a bet on games, teams, or players in any sport at this time is through offshore betting sites, such as the ones we recommend due to their safety and dependability.

In Alabama, there are no state gambling rules, and there are no federal gambling laws that prohibit you from wagering money on sports at sites that are situated outside of the state’s or the country’s jurisdiction. There are no prohibitions on betting with offshore online sportsbooks on the Internet, and the state does not control or enforce any limits on online gambling.

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Is Alabama Sports Betting Legal?

The short answer is no, but sports betting is one step closer to being legalized in the Heart of Dixie thanks to Senate Bill 294, otherwise known as “The Gambling Control Bill.” The primary sponsor of this bill is Republican State Senator Greg Albritton. The Bill was initially introduced to the Senate Tourism Committee which passed the bill in early March 2022. The next step is to have the bill viewed by the full State Senate. Unfortunately, with the Alabama Legislature due to adjourn in April and opposition in the House, it might take more than anticipated to move this bill through the government.

If it were to make it through both the House and the Senate successfully, it would be passed to voters in a referendum as part of the 2022 elections.

What Would Bill 294 Introduce?

Bill 294 has been nicknamed the Gambling Control Bill for a good reason. Albritton fully acknowledges that sports betting already takes place, albeit illegally. This is an issue that needs to be addressed, as Alabamians who illegally bet are at significant risk when they do so. Unfortunately, they have no consumer protections and no support to turn to if a problem with gambling does develop. This bill establishes fair regulations to introduce Alabama sports betting safely and responsibly, giving players a protected and well-regulated platform.

The bill would make the minimum age of sports betting 21 and allow both mobile and retail sports betting. Sportsbooks would also be able to offer bets across both professional and collegiate sports. As for operators, they would have to pay a license fee of $100,000 while also paying a 20% tax on gross revenues within the state.

In addition to this, Albritton has plans to introduce a further three gambling bills. These would expand upon the groundwork laid in the Gambling Control Bill. In particular, they would aim to set up a commission to oversee gambling, online gaming, and sports betting.

Other Bills

The Gambling Control Bill is not the only legislation looking to legalize Alabama sports betting. In February, Democrat State Representative John Rogers introduced House Bill 405. This bill would bring sports betting to Jefferson County, the most populated county in the state and home to the city of Birmingham and this county alone.

This bill would create the Jefferson County Sports Wagering Commission, overseeing and administering the program. It would allow mobile betting within county borders and restrict sports betting to 21+. It would also tax operators at 10% on their adjusted gross receipts from sports betting.

HB 405 is still in the early stages of being considered and discussed by legislators, so there is nothing to say that the state will adopt it over Albritton’s bill. If both are rejected, we might even see Rogers and Albritton work together to produce a bill that works across both the House and Senate.

Legislators are determined to introduce legal Alabama sports betting in some way. Though voters could reject it in a referendum, there is a long fight ahead before something could be placed before them.

Major Sports Leagues in Alabama

Why ensure sports betting is legal and well-regulated in Alabama? You need only look to this state’s passion for its sports teams. There might not be any major league franchises in the Yellowhammer state, but that does not mean that they have no supporters here. The neighboring states of Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida all have major league teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB, and other sports.

Alabama is also not without its share of professional sports teams, including three minor league baseball teams. As a result, there is a great sports culture in this state, and it has been noted multiple times that betting already takes place on an illegal level.

Introducing legal sports betting here will give locals a way to indulge in their sports betting habits legally and with support in place should they need it. With the right system in place, they could even place bets on any team in the country.

College Sports in Alabama

Collegiate sports will form a massive part of Alabama sports betting. However, it isn’t easy to know whether a sports betting bill would take off in the state government if it did not have a clause covering collegiate betting.

College football is wildly popular in Alabama, with many supporting teams such as the fiercely competitive rivalry between the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn University Tigers, amongst other sports. Both teams compete in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, with both having varsity teams in multiple sports beyond football.

A match or meeting with one of their teams can draw numbers potentially in the thousands. There will always be some interest in betting on the game’s outcome within that. Rather than ban betting on collegiate sports, an Alabama sports betting bill should embrace them, as we can see with both the Gambling Control Bill and HB 405.

Tribal Casinos

A small number of high-stakes bingo halls serve as tribal gambling venues in Alabama. In addition, Class II gaming bingo machines are available at these locations. The facilities continue to operate despite the state’s attorney general’s continuous objection.

Tribal Casinos are owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which operates various casinos and racetracks under the umbrella of Wind Creek Hospitality, a tribe-owned corporation. All of the casinos are located on sovereign tribe land.

In addition to its reservation, the tribe holds a controlling share in three greyhound racing facilities:

  • Mobile Greyhound Park
  • Pensacola Greyhound Park
  • Creek Entertainment Gretna

The Poarch Creek Indians are the only federally recognized tribe in Alabama, the tribe owns and operates three casinos:

  • Wind Creek Casino & Hotel in Atmore, Escambia County, Alabama
  • Wind Creek Casino & Hotel in Montgomery County, Alabama
  • Wind Creek Casino & Hotel in Wetumpka, Elmore County, Alabama

Daily Fantasy Sports in Alabama

Though they are considered separate in terms of legislation, one should look to the state’s attitude towards daily fantasy sports when considering whether we could see the legalization of Alabama sports betting.

Daily fantasy sports did operate in a legislative gray area in Alabama before 2016. However, the operators left after the then-Attorney General Luther Strange opined that they were illegal. Operators then chose to return after daily fantasy sports were legalized in 2019. House Bill 361 was introduced by eight Representatives in April and then was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey later that year.

In addition to allowing new operators into the market, it gave a 180 period to those operating in the state before 2016 a chance to re-establish themselves. After this, the free market would open, and new operators would be invited in.

Why is this significant to Alabama sports betting? Many of the operators involved in daily fantasy sports offer a sportsbook in states where it is legal for them to do so – whether in a retail location or through mobile betting. Should we see sports betting made legal in Alabama, it is likely to be these operators who are the first to offer a sportsbook to bettors. They already have the infrastructure in place in other states, making it very easy to replicate and launch in Alabama.

Will We See Legal Alabama Sports Betting?

Legal sports betting in Alabama is closer than many might think. It is easy to believe that the lack of major league franchises here means that there will not be that much of sports betting marketing. However, that would discredit the vast numbers who follow collegiate sports. College football is such an essential part of life in Alabama that this could be one of the driving factors for getting a bill for legal Alabama sports betting across the line.

A lack of regulation is a primary concern too. Though bettors are heading across state borders to places like Mississippi, Tennessee, and even as far afield as Nevada, many are also engaging with unregulated and illegal sportsbooks. Getting specific regulations and protections in place for the benefit of these bettors will be essential.

It seems that every bill introduced is a little more successful. Those interested in the progress of Alabama sports betting should most definitely watch the progress of the Gambling Control Bill and HB 405 to see how they fare. Whether sports betting is introduced across the whole state or just in Jefferson County, it will be a significant step forward for sports betting in the Yellowhammer State and the USA. As one of the more conservative states, a gain here would be phenomenal for the profile of sports betting and could help with its reputation across other, more hesitant states.

Of course, one of the significant obstacles to introducing legal sports betting in Alabama would be that it has to be put to a referendum. Though countless bills can be put forward to suggest the structure of a gambling commission or how much operators might be taxed, the final decision will likely come down to the people of Alabama itself.

Will we see legal Alabama sports betting? It does seem like we could see regulated sportsbooks flourish in the Heart of Dixie soon. However, the precise date of this will most likely be left to the legislators and voters of Alabama.

Alabama Horse Racing & Off-Track Betting

Even though Alabama allows dog racing, there is little indication that horse racing will ever be reinstated in the state. On the plus side, the Birmingham Dog Track broadcasts thoroughbred horse racing live.

You may confuse Alabama Horse Racing with the Alabama Stakes which is a thoroughbred horse race in the United States that is open to three-year-old fillies. Alabama Stakes is named in honor of William Cottrell, who was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama. Due to Cottrell’s modesty, the name “Alabama” was chosen since he did not like to have a race named after him personally.

Land Based Casinos

These establishments have a limited selection of slot style and bingo games and state-based racinos that provide dog and horseracing action. Alabama residents and visitors alike may take advantage of various slot-style games and bingo games that offer lucrative jackpots.

In addition to the tribal casinos, there are two other casinos in operation:

  • Victoryland Casino in Shorter, Macon County, Alabama
  • Greenetrack Bingo & Racing in Eutaw, Union County, Alabama

Final Thoughts

Despite the fact that Alabama has a long history of sports teams and sports enthusiasts, the historically conservative state has been a little slower to embrace sports betting than other states. It appears that this will not be the case for much longer, since the Alabama Gaming Commission is now accepting proposals for licenses to operate casinos and gambling facilities as a possible remedy.

PASPA’s abolition has opened a window of opportunity that is simply too wonderful to pass up. Alabama is a growing market of sports lovers who are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to place wagers with legal and regulated sportsbooks, particularly on mobile devices.

Perhaps it won’t be long before Alabama follows in the footsteps of its western neighbor Mississippi and its northern neighbor Tennessee in legalizing sports betting. A magnificent day will be celebrated by sports lovers throughout the South when it finally happens.

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About Joe Kizlauskas

Joe is a seasoned iGaming copywriter and speaker who has been in the business since 2015. He's written more words on all elements of iGaming than he likes to remember, and he's contributed material to a number of well-known brands. Joe may be seen playing 5 a side, at the gym or playing games on his Playstation when he is not writing.