- Alabama Senate Approves Letting Voters Decide on Gambling Expansion.
- Up To Nine Full-Service Casinos Could Be Built.
- State Would Create a Lottery and Regulate Sportsbooks.
The Alabama Senate wants to give voters the choice to support a comprehensive gambling expansion. Through a voice vote on Tuesday, the state Senate approved placing a constitutional amendment regarding gaming on the November 2022 ballot. Additional proposals govern how to implement the new laws. Now, the measures head to the House. While passage is not guaranteed, this is a large step towards a long-debated Alabama gambling expansion.
Alabama Gambling Expansion Differs From April Bills
On April 13, the Senate approved a slightly different Alabama gambling expansion bill. Now, following the amendment process, the new proposals are updated in hopes of securing passage.
Just as in the original bill, Alabama voters could support building up to nine full-service land-based casinos. The locations of the proposed casinos are:
- Macon County
- Greene County
- Houston County
- Either DeKalb or Jackson County
Additionally, the Poarch Band of Indians are authorized to build casinos at their bingo parlors in:
Except for the new casino in DeKalb or Jackson County, all the facilities are expansions to current gambling infrastructure.
Alabama Sportsbooks Are Part of Bills
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey vocally supports a thorough overhaul of Alabama’s gambling laws. She commissioned a study group that found the Yellowhammer State is missing out on up to $700 million in revenue.
First, one of the three Alabama gambling expansion bills creates a Gaming Commission. If voters approved of the constitutional amendment, the new Commission would oversee expansion. Its responsibilities include setting up sportsbooks.
The bills provide for retail sportsbooks at the new full-service casinos. Additionally, online and mobile sportsbook licenses are part of the expansion. It is unclear if Alabamans can place regulated wagers on in-state college sports. Previous attempts at Alabama gambling expansion have been caught up in roadblocks regarding sportsbooks.
Alabama Gambling Expansion Includes a State Lottery
If passed, Alabama would become the 46th state to offer its citizens a state lottery. In addition to full-service casinos and online sportsbooks, Alabama gamblers could play multi-state jackpot lottery games. To gain additional support, the bills change the tax structure and the distribution of revenue from gambling.
Casino operators and sportsbooks are required to pay a 23% tax rate on net revenue under the plan. All the money would be earmarked for educational priorities. The distribution of revenue is governed by one of the three bills, and divides:
- Half of tax revenue for a college scholarship program.
- The other half towards the state’s Education Trust Fund.
- Seventy percent of which is earmarked for K-12 education.
- The remainder is to support higher education.
Finally, the measures direct Gov. Ivey to begin negotiations towards a federally approved compact with the Poarch Tribe. A new compact regulating the new tribal casinos is required to fully effect the Alabama gambling expansion.
Now that the trio of bills cleared the Senate, Alabama is closer than ever to a long-awaited gambling reform. Neighboring Georgia failed in its own quest for regulated sportsbooks this year. However, with the Governor’s support, voters may soon get a chance to finally decide Alabama’s gambling future for themselves.