A new legislative session in Alabama is seeing a sports betting, lottery, and casino measure introduced.
On Thursday, state Rep. Chris Blackshear and Andy Whitt introduced House Bill 152, a piece of legislation that would authorize the regulation and taxation of sports wagering, a state lottery, and casino-style gaming at brick-and-mortar establishments in the Heart of Dixie. The measure, if signed into law, would establish the Alabama Gaming Commission, which would regulate sports and casino-style wagering in the state. HB 152 calls for a state lottery to be administrated by the Alabama Lottery Corporation, which would have its own proceeds fund to handle all financial transactions.
A Gaming Enforcement Division would also be established under the bill. The division would police all gaming activities across the state while eradicating illegal wagering.
In HB 152, there would be a state tax on net gaming revenue from casino-style gaming and sports betting. The measure would levy a 24% tax rate on casino-style gaming, which is paid by establishments within 20 days after the end of each calendar month. About 95% of the tax revenue generated from casino-style gaming will be allocated to a gaming trust fund, while a portion will go to the General Fund Budget Reserve Fund and also back to gaming establishments across the state.
Funds will go to the General Fund until it reaches $300 million. Today, it sits at around $150 million, according to Blackshear. HB 152 sees retail and online sports betting in Alabama taxed at a 17% rate with 90% of revenue allocated toward the gaming trust fund and another 10% toward each county commission of the state. Funds given to counties are to be allocated toward law enforcement.
Lottery revenues would go to a Lottery for Education Fund to bolster statewide resources.
A retail casino operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians could also add to the state’s tax revenue due to the authorization of a gaming compact in HB 152. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, a federally recognized tribe, have a reserved wagering license under the bill with up to six other licenses to be issued to gaming establishments. The licenses for casino-style gaming and sports betting in Alabama are to be issued to pre-selected counties across the state.
Operators that are looking to establish a presence in Alabama must showcase an ability to invest at least $35 million in those gaming establishments. They must also dish out at least $5 million as a license fee for an initial 15-year term. Operators that apply for a license in Alabama can extend their initial term in the state if they propose to invest of at least $500 million.
The introduction of HB 152 comes amid support of casinos and a lottery from Gov. Kay Ivey.
In her annual State of the State address earlier this week, Ivey said she hopes residents can vote on the issue as a gaming measure would curtail illegal gambling that is prevalent in the state. There have been reports that suggest Alabama is home to over 70 illegal gaming operations.
Not Alabama’s only chance of a new gaming law
Other lawmakers in Alabama are expected to support competing gambling measures.
Last year, House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter put together a committee to advocate for gambling legislation in Alabama. The committee plans to introduce a measure of their own this legislative session.
In 2022, Alabama saw two bills introduced in the state’s Senate Tourism Committee. The measures, Senate Bill 293 and Senate Bill 294, looked to authorize a state lottery and online sports wagering. The bills garnered support in the Senate but ultimately failed in the House.