Alabama Sports Betting, Casino Measures Pass Through House Vote

Alabama Sports Betting, Casino Measures Pass Through House Vote
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Alabama House lawmakers passed two bills on Thursday that would drastically change the gaming environment in the Deep South state.

One proposal asks voters to pass a constitutional amendment to legalize full-fledged casinos, Alabama sports betting and a state lottery. That’s House Bill 151, which passed by a vote of 70-32, clearing the three-fifths majority needed for passage by seven votes. The second measure is House Bill 152, which includes the enacting language should voters approve the amendment. That one only needed a simple majority in the 105-seat chamber and members approved it 67-31. Both measures will now move to the Senate for its consideration.

A long debate occurred on the House Floor Thursday morning in Montgomery, with some citing the traditional Christian religious concerns that have kept Alabama from being one of the five states – and the only one east of the Mississippi River – without a state lottery. It’s also still one of a dozen states that has yet to approve wagering on sports, either in person or at online Alabama sportsbook apps.

Despite the activities being illegal, state Rep. Chris Blackshear, R-Smiths Station, told his fellow lawmakers that gambling is prevalent statewide.

“I’m here to stand before you today and say, ‘Alabama, we have a problem,’” said Blackshear, the bill’s primary sponsor. “And today’s our opportunity to take one big step forward and fixing that problem.”

If voters approve, Alabama would allow licenses for up to seven commercial casinos. Gov. Kay Ivey, who supports gaming expansion, could then also enter talks with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to establish a gaming compact. The Alabama-based tribe would receive one of the commercial licenses, and the compact would allow the tribal nation to upgrade its three Class II gaming facilities and make them Class III casinos.

A fiscal note determined the state could generate more than $900 million in new tax revenue annually from legalized gaming.

Some Gambling Opposition Based On Religion

It’s uncertain how voters will react if given a chance to expand gaming. Alabama is considered a deeply conservative state, but gaming expansion has succeeded recently in similar states, including Kentucky and North Carolina. Those two passed sports betting measures last year – in addition, Tennessee has had online sports betting since late 2020 despite not having any casinos.

Polls in those and other states have found that gaming expansion has wide support across political spectrums and age groups. Still, Alabama social conservatives will likely wage a grassroots effort to defeat the constitutional amendment should it be placed on the ballot.

State Rep. Ernie Yarbrough, R-Trinity, wondered why the legislature did not offer citizens the chance to vote on matters regarding taxes and medical issues. He also shared biblical stories about people who were led astray by temptation.

“Do we not have a responsibility as leaders to direct our people to a better place? To a higher end?” he asked.

Sports Betting In Alabama Draws Interest

On Wednesday, GeoComply, a provider of geolocation and other security services for licensed sports betting operators, reported finding more than 5,000 active mobile sports betting accounts in Alabama tied to legal operators licensed in other states. That’s up nearly 70% from the number of accounts for last year’s Super Bowl.

Huntsville, Alabama’s largest city, is less than 20 miles from the Tennessee state line. But Birmingham, the state’s largest metropolitan area, is more than 100 miles away. Montgomery, the state capital and another large market, is not close to either Tennessee or Florida, where Hard Rock Bet is the exclusive operator. Plus none of those cities are very close to Mississippi casinos, which feature brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.

Still, over this past Super Bowl weekend, GeoComply conducted more than 35,000 geolocation transactions on accounts in Alabama. GeoComply conducts the checks to confirm the location of the person trying to access sports betting apps. While people can check odds or make deposits or withdrawals from anywhere, geolocation software blocks people from placing bets outside the state where the app is licensed.

That traffic was 78% higher than GeoComply reported from last year’s big game. More than half of the checks were connected to apps for accounts licensed in Tennessee, but GeoComply also noted a spike in activity along Alabama’s Gulf Coast region. It’s a short drive to Florida from there, and Hard Rock Bet resumed activities in the Sunshine State last fall.

Stay with for more coverage of efforts to bring major operators, and likely their Alabama sports betting promo codes, to the state.



Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

Cited by leading media organizations, such as: