Expanded legal gambling is quickly picking up support in the Southeast. Mississippi legalized it last year soon after the Supreme Court overturned PASPA, Arkansas began full-scale casino gaming in its state a couple of days ago, and Louisiana pre-filed a sports betting bill last week.
Alabama is the latest state in the region to work towards legal gaming by introducing HB 315, known as the Alabama Sports Wagering Act.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Rogers (D), will allow wagering on ‘certain professional or collegiate sports or athletic events.’ The wording makes it appear that the government will restrict the state’s sportsbooks from allowing bets to be placed on sporting events that involve Alabama-based colleges or professional sporting events taking place in the state.
It does, however, allow for wagers on ‘any mobile application or other digital platform used to place wagers.’ If passed, Alabama would become the first state in the Southeast to allow mobile sports betting. Mississippi currently only allows sports betting on mobile apps when gamblers are on property. Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Nevada allow mobile sports betting.
The bill would create the Alabama Sports Wagering Commission, which would be tasked with regulating the state’s sports betting industry. The organization would also issue licenses to prospective operators.
Licenses would cost $100,000 and the state would grant seven licenses. Operators would have their revenues taxed at 10 percent.
The legislative session runs through June, which gives the bill plenty of time to work through any hurdles, but it’s by no means a favorite to pass. Alabama isn’t home to a lot of gambling supporters and is one of the few states without a lottery.
Rep. Paul Lee, a Republican, told local media last year that he doesn’t support legalized gambling in the state. Instead, the state should look towards ‘supporting small business and creating high-paying jobs’ to raise tax revenue instead of looking towards gambling.
Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler, however, looks at the possible tax revenue as too good to pass up and supports legalizing sports betting in the state.
Plenty of states have fallen short of their estimates in the early stages of sports betting. Rhode Island, for example, budgeted for $11.5 million in tax revenue. In four months of sports betting, the state has only generated $150,000.