Alabama Lottery, Sports Betting, and Gaming Expansion Bills Set for Introduction

Posted on: February 1, 2021, 10:56h. 

Last updated on: February 12, 2021, 09:21h.

Alabama is one of only five states that does not have a lottery. That could change this year.

Alabama lottery casino gaming expansion
Alabama Rep. John Rogers (D), seen here in 2019 at the Jefferson County Courthouse, wants to bring the state a lottery. Tax revenue projections from the lottery and other forms of gambling have made gaming expansion attractive to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. (Image: WSFA 12 News)

State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) prefilled lottery legislation ahead of the Alabama Legislature’s upcoming session, which begins tomorrow, Feb. 2. House Bill 199 seeks to amend Section 65 of the state constitution and establish the Alabama Lottery.

Revenue from the lottery would be split three ways. Forty percent of the proceeds would be directed to the state education budget. Another 40 percent would go to the general fund, and the remaining 20 percent would be allocated for the Alabama Department of Corrections.

Rogers is a veteran state lawmaker who has served in the Montgomery capital since 1982. He has long advocated for legal gambling. In addition to his lottery bill, Rogers is set to introduce legislation tomorrow that would legalize sports betting.

Bipartisan Gaming Support

Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Utah, and Nevada are currently the only five states without a lottery. Rogers isn’t the only lawmaker who wants to remove Alabama from that list.   

Sen. Del Marsh (R-Talladega) says he, too, will introduce a lottery bill during the session. The bill takes gambling expansion even further by requiring the state to negotiate a gaming compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The tribe currently owns and operates three casinos in the state — Wind Creek Atmore, Wind Creek Montgomery, and Wind Creek Wetumpka. But because the state and tribe have never entered into a gaming compact to allow Class III Indian gaming, which is the class level for slot machines and table games, the casinos only offer bingo-based gaming terminals.

Marsh says a lottery and Class III gaming would provide the state with substantial new tax revenue. He wants to use that money to provide more state education scholarships and expand high-speed internet in Alabama.

I see this as an opportunity to do these things without taxing the taxpayer,” Marsh told the Associated Press.

Rogers’ sports betting bill would allow in-person and mobile wagering. The Wind Creek casinos and state horse and dog racetracks would qualify for licensure. The legislation also requires a newly formed Alabama Sports Wagering Commission to create other types of sports betting licenses that would be available to other businesses and entities.

Major Revenues at Stake

The Study Group on Gambling, commissioned by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) last year, concluded in December that legalized gambling could deliver the state as much as $700 million annually.

The group’s 876-page report additionally said expanded gambling would create nearly 20,000 new jobs.

Any motion to expand gambling in Alabama that is passed by lawmakers and the governor would still need approval from citizens. Constitutional ballot referendums in Alabama require only a simple majority support.