Alabama Tribal Casino Bill to Include Sports Betting, State-Run Lottery

Posted on: January 21, 2024, 11:43h. 

Last updated on: January 22, 2024, 12:33h.

Alabama lawmakers will reportedly introduce legislation next month to expand gaming in the state to include tribal casinos with slot machines and table games. The gaming package will also include sports betting and a state-run lottery, sources privy to the authoring in the Montgomery capital say.

Alabama gaming casinos sports betting lottery
Wind Creek Atmore. Alabama lawmakers are reportedly prepping legislation that seeks to allow the state’s tribal casinos to incorporate Las Vegas gaming, including slot machines, table games, and sports betting. (Image: Alabama Tourism Department)

The Alabama Legislature convenes for its 2024 session on Feb. 6. According to officials who spoke anonymously to 1819 News, a state news website, lawmakers will again seek to expand gaming in the Cotton State.

The gaming bill will seek to allow the state’s lone federally recognized Tribe — the Poarch Band of Creek Indians — to expand their three casinos in Atmore, Montgomery, and Wetumpka from Class II bingo facilities to Class III casinos with Las Vegas-style gambling. The legislation could potentially allow the Tribe to pursue new brick-and-mortar casinos in Birmingham and the counties of Macon, Greene, Lowndes, Houston, and Mobile.

Sports Betting, Lottery

Alabama lawmakers supportive of the gaming push also want to authorize in-person and online sports betting and authorize a state-run lottery.

Sports betting privileges would be provided to the Poarch Creek Indians, but also allow commercial operators to apply for online licenses. A newly formed state agency called the Alabama Gaming Commission would field applications and issue licenses, and then govern sportsbook operations.

The gaming package, the sources say, will also include a lottery component. Alabama is currently one of just a handful of states without a lottery.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s (R) 2020 Study Group on Gambling Policy Report estimated that the state could receive $200 million-$300 million in annual tax revenue from a lottery, $300 million-$400 million from Class III casino gaming, and $10 million from sports betting. The study found that such gaming would also create 19,000 jobs — “many with salary premiums much higher than the state’s current average annual income.”

The lawmakers’ forthcoming gaming bill would allocate tribal casino revenue payments and sports betting taxes to the state’s General Fund Budget. Lottery revenues would help support public education.

Path to Expansion

Alabama’s elected officials do not possess the power to singlehandedly authorize new forms of gaming. The Alabama Constitution prohibits all forms of commercial gambling.

For that to change, state voters would need to approve amending the legal framework document through a statewide ballot referendum. Only a simple majority outcome is needed for a referendum to pass.

A poll conducted in conjunction with Ivey’s gaming study found that more than seven in 10 likely voters strongly favored or somewhat favored the idea of establishing a lottery. The poll found that 63% of likely voters favored casino slot machines, and 61% favored table games. More than half lent their backing to online sports betting.

Casino backers say opponents who don’t want more gaming are wrong in their thinking. The casino supporters say the gaming bill would actually reduce gaming by seizing illegal gambling networks.

The legislation is to include new laws on illegal gambling penalties, raising the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony and significantly increasing financial penalties for those convicted.