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Alabama Gambling Expansion Dies in Senate

Legislative efforts to expand regulated gambling in the state of Alabama died earlier this week when House Bill 151 and House Bill 152 failed to reach the 21-vote threshold required to pass into law by the state senate. Though the bills overwhelmingly passed in the state legislature, senators were put off by the amended bills which eliminated sports betting and casino expansions.

House Bills 151 and 152 mark the latest failures in a 25-year effort to expand regulated gaming in Alabama. In their original forms, the bills included language that would create a state lottery, allow participation in national lotteries, and make way for three new, land-based casinos. While the unmarked bills had plenty of support, they were entirely different animals by the time they reached the state senate.

While the amended bills kept the lottery expansion language, they did away entirely with sports betting and switched the casino expansion to a dog horse racing track expansion. The new bills also squeezed out tribal gaming interests from any form of expansion.

Senator Greg Albritton (R), whose district includes the Poarch Creek Indian Tribe, spoke on the folly of the amended bills in comments reported on by Fox 10 TV saying, “The compromise completely left out, ignored, sports gaming. Sports gaming is an ever-growing, huge business in Alabama. Much of it is illegal and undercover. We just refuse to regulate it, to control it.”

Lawmakers were predicting that a state lottery would have generated more than $300 million annually for the state’s education system, which is ranked 45th overall among US States.

Albritton and his colleagues say they’ll be back next year with another attempt at expanding regulated gambling in their state.