Alabama legislators plan to convene on February 6th to discuss a new comprehensive gaming bill that could potentially reshape the state’s gambling industry. The proposed legislation aims to legalize various forms of gambling and establish the Alabama Gaming Commission as the governing body.
Currently, Alabama’s constitution prohibits gambling, but there are 18 constitutional amendments that allow specific forms of gaming in certain regions. This has led to ongoing debates and disputes among officials. The new unified gaming legislation is expected to resolve these issues and expand the range of available wagering options while implementing updated customer protection standards.
Governor Kay Ivey’s 2020 Study Group on Gambling Policy Report estimates that the potential revenue from gambling could reach up to $710 million per year. This includes revenue from a state lottery, casino gaming, and sports betting, all of which would contribute to the Education Budget and the General Fund Budget.
The upcoming bill is also expected to repeal all 18 constitutional amendments related to gambling and increase penalties for illegal gaming. It proposes allowing Class III gaming in specific areas through an open-bidding process, including locations on tribal lands operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and several counties across the state.
The legislation also outlines provisions for sports gaming licenses, with the commission issuing licenses for both physical and online sports betting. However, other forms of online gaming will remain prohibited under the bill.
It’s important to note that the bill would not legalize gambling in Alabama without input from state voters. As a constitutional amendment, it would require a three-fifths majority in both legislative chambers and a successful referendum, likely to take place during the November general election.
Overall, the proposed gaming bill has the potential to significantly change the landscape of gambling in Alabama, but its fate ultimately rests in the hands of the state’s voters.