Industry Reports

Could Alabama Legislature Consider Lottery and Sports Betting Expansion Despite Historical Anti-Gambling Stance?

A couple of weeks after Mac McCutcheon, speaker of the Alabama House, hinted of a possibility for a lottery bill to be unveiled over the new legislative session of the state, the uncertainty around the eventual addition of sports betting to Alabama’s gambling sector still lingers.

The Alabama House’s speaker has explained that local legislators could be preparing for a vote on lottery and sports betting expansion but there are no guarantees that state’s legislators would decide to take advantage of the US Supreme Court’s ruling to lift the federal ban on sports betting earlier this year.

Historically, Alabama has been an “anti-gambling” state, so the addition of both lottery and sports betting offering would definitely be a surprise to everyone. As already revealed by Casino Reports, it is one of the five states which still do not offer any form of lottery, despite the fact that it got fully surrounded by states where lotteries are legal following the decision of Mississippi legislators to pass a comprehensive gambling bill in August 2018.

For the time being, there are currently a number of operators which offer horse and dog race betting and e-bingo services across the state. In addition, there are also several Native American casinos which operate but many standard casino games such as blackjack, slots and poker are not allowed. Social gambling and online gambling are also suspended in Alabama.

Lottery and Sports Betting Legalization Would Bring More Revenue

So, is there a place for an expansion of the state’s gambling sector with lottery and sports betting options? The truth is that imposing a ban on either of them and especially on sports betting, will hardly stop anyone from placing bets on various sports events with illegal operators. Such a decision will only prevent the state from getting a clearly regulated sports betting market, as well as betting tax revenue.

As mentioned above, earlier this year, the US Supreme Court decided to rule in favor of the state of New Jersey in its sports betting case, by lifting the federal ban imposed on such operations under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). A number of states have already rolled out pieces of sports betting legislation in an attempt to take advantage of the new revenue source and add some fresh money to their budgets.

For the time being, Mississippi is the only southern US state which has already made sports betting legal. It has already seen quite good results, especially after the college football season’s beginning. This could be taken as a sign that southern states increasingly start to no longer see gambling as a moral problem which must be avoided in order to keep the community “safe”. The example of its neighboring states could have a positive influence on Alabama legislators’ stance regarding sports betting and lottery expansion.

Alabama’s gambling legislation has rarely changed through the years, but it is probably high time for local legislators to become more flexible and see things from a different angle. According to estimates, a state lottery could potentially account for an annual tax revenue of US$80 million. Legalized sports betting could add even more.

In spite of the fact that legal sports betting may not occur in the state of Alabama any time soon, taking some small steps towards further expansion of the local gambling market would be key to making state’s gambling sector more up to date. The official introduction of a state lottery could also be a vital step towards that expansion, so it remains to be seen what the Alabama legislators’ decision would be in the months to come.