Alabama Gambling Bills Pass House, Head to Senate In Historic First

In a historic first, Alabama’s House of Representatives passed legislation authorizing lottery, casino gambling, and retail and online sports betting in the state. Now, the two bills, which passed the House with a significant majority, head to Alabama’s upper chamber with the Governor’s support.

If the Senate favors the bill package, a ballot initiative will give Alabama voters the final say in November when they head to the polls.

After Thursday’s House vote, Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter championed the possibility of Alabama’s first public vote on gambling since voters rejected lottery legislation in 1999.

The people want a chance to vote. If they vote for it, good. If they vote against it, that’s their choice. But at least they’ve got a voice.

Bills Pass House with Little Pushback

Sponsored by Rep. Chris Blackshear, House Bills 151 and 152 passed with strong support (70-32 in favor of HB151 and 67-31 for HB152).

Notably, the comprehensive, two-bill package is the first-ever statewide gambling effort to gain approval from the Alabama House. Before Thursday’s successful votes, the lower chamber had declined to pass gambling legislation multiple times.

However, last week, the bills passed with little pushback from detractors.

If approved by the Senate and state voters, the bill package—including one constitutional amendment and one act enabling implementation—will establish the regulatory infrastructure required to shift to expanded, legalized gambling.

Specifically, the bills will:

  • Establish the Alabama Gaming Commission, Alabama Lottery Corporation, and Gaming Enforcement Division
  • Approve up to ten casinos and a gaming compact for the three tribal gaming facilities operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI). The PCI also has the option to open a fourth casino on non-tribal land in Alabama’s northeast corner.
  • Legalize retail and online sports betting
  • Establish the Alabama State Lottery
  • Sets the tax rates for casinos (24%) and sports betting (17%)

If legalized, Alabama’s proposed gambling expansion could grow the state’s tax coffers significantly, according to revised estimates.

Specifically, sponsors Rep. Blackshear and Rep. Andy Whitt expect legalization to earn between $935 million and $1.2 billion in annual taxes for the state.

The breakdown, according to the revised estimate:

  • Casinos: $315 million to $492 million
  • Lottery: $305 million to $379 million
  • Sports Betting: $15 million to $43 million
  • Poarch Creek Gaming Compact: $300 million

According to plans, tax revenues will boost state education coffers and Alabama’s general fund. The former supports college scholarships, dual enrollments, school security, research, and more. For the latter, lawmakers vote yearly on the programs funded.

Governor Ivey Backs Legalization Effort

This time around, the effort to curtail Alabama’s thriving illegal gambling market appears to have some political teeth.

Last week, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey applauded the latest legalization efforts following the House’s historic passage of the bills. Previously, the Governor shared support for Alabama gambling expansion during her 2024 State of the State address.

From last week’s statement:

I have long said the people of Alabama deserve to have another say on gaming, and today’s passage of HB151 and HB152 in the House is an important step forward and very significant, as this has not been accomplished by the House in years.

The proposal passed by the House will clean up and crack down on the rampant illegal gambling and will give Alabamians the opportunity to have their say on regulated, limited forms of gaming. This is a tough, complex issue, and I commend Rep. Chris Blackshear, Rep. Andy Whitt and House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter for their leadership. I also commend each House member who voted today to limit, regulate, and tax gaming and lottery activities in Alabama. I will remain engaged as this legislation moves to the Senate. In their current form, these bills will continue to have my support.

Additionally, Republican Sen. Greg Albritton, who will sponsor the bills in the Senate, told AP he is optimistic his peers will approve the effort.

We may get this to the voters this year.

However, he also told the Alabama Reflector on Monday that it’s not likely the bills will make it to a committee vote this week.

We got to do some caucus work before we take it to committee.

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
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