Featured in this article:
  • Owners of Alabama greyhound race tracks are pushing a legal gambling expansion.
  • Some lawmakers support allowing voters to have a say on a lottery, casinos, and sportsbooks.
  • Election year means regulation is unlikely during 2022.

3 Minute Read

FILE - Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) throws a pass against Auburn during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Nov. 27, 2021, in Auburn, Ala. Young has been selected as an All-American by The Associated Press, giving the top-ranked Crimson Tide more players on the first team than any other school. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

The ownership groups behind the state’s four greyhound racing tracks launched a TV campaign supporting Alabama gambling expansion. As state lawmakers gather in Montgomery to start the 2022 legislative session, outside pressure is building on politicians to act.

Alabama still does not have a state lottery but has a large gray-market of unregulated video gaming terminals. Additionally, as neighboring states continue to legalize sports betting, Alabama lawmakers want to discuss a full-fledged gambling expansion.

What Would Alabama Gambling Expansion Look Like?

The Alabama Track Owners Association is hoping to push lawmakers for a comprehensive expansion of the state’s gambling laws. They argue creating a state lottery and allowing casinos for the first time could add up to $700 million per year in state revenue. Additionally, the commercial highlights the newly created job opportunities casinos could create.

Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham would likely be home to one of the new full-service casinos.

There would be at least three prongs to any comprehensive Alabama gambling expansion:

  • First, the state would create a lottery to join the vast majority of other locations.
  • Second, lawmakers would need to debate allowing casinos, how many, and where.
  • Finally, the question of whether to regulate sports betting.

Whether sportsbooks are allowed only as part of full-fledged casinos or with standalone online and mobile betting apps is unclear. Additionally, any reforms would likely need to address the legality and taxing of video gaming terminals in truck stops, convenience stores, and bars.

Why Have Alabama Lottery Bills Failed Previously?

Any gambling expansion in Alabama requires amending the state constitution. At least three-fifths of both the state House and Senate must approve putting an amendment to the state’s voters. Then, voters must approve the measure during an election.

The high-bar that must be cleared for any gambling expansion has halted any momentum in the past. Since 1999, lawmakers have introduced at least one lottery or gambling bill in every legislative session, with all failing.

There is still a strong vein of conservative politics in Alabama that does not believe in any forms of gambling. And these voters have made their voices heard every time a lottery or gambling expansion comes up.

Gambling Expansion Not a Priority in 2022

Despite lawmakers planning to introduce gambling bills and the support of the greyhound track owners, Alabama gambling expansion is unlikely this year. The state Republican Party announced its priorities for this legislative session, and gambling is absent from the list.

Every state lawmaker is up for reelection in 2022. With three-fourths of the seats in the powerful House held by Republicans, the primaries in May are more crucial than the general election in November.

And Alabama Republican primary voters skew anti-gambling. Politicians who support allowing voters to decide on the state’s gambling laws may be punished at the ballot box. While the lack of priority does not mean no expansion is coming, it makes passage less likely. The obstacles that prevented a lottery and casino bill in years past are still present and difficult to overcome.

Arthur Crowson

Arthur Crowson writes for GambleOnline.co about the gambling industry. His experience ranges from crypto and technology to sports, casinos, and poker. He went to Douglas College and started his journalism career at the Merritt Herald as a general beat reporter covering news, sports and community. Arthur lives in Hawaii and is passionate about writing, editing, and photography.

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