Casino, lottery, and sports betting bill progresses in Alabama House

Alabama Gov Kay Ivey
Image: Shutterstock / Phillip Foster

Lawmakers in Alabama are continuing to consider a sports betting, lottery, and casino measure.

House Bill 152, introduced by Rep. Chris Blackshear and Andy Whitt, received a favorable vote on Wednesday by the Alabama House Economic Development Committee.

The measure, which adds additional revenue streams to Alabama’s gaming market, proposes to authorize the regulation and taxation of sports wagering, a state lottery, and casino-style games at retail casinos and gaming establishments across the Heart of Dixie.

Another bill, House Bill 151, was also approved by the committee. The bill would instill a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to determine the fate of wagering.

HB 152 would establish the Alabama Gaming Commission, which would regulate wagering, and the Alabama Lottery Corporation, the administrator of the state lottery. A Gaming Enforcement Division would also be created to police all gaming activities.

The division would also have the responsibility of identifying and preventing illicit wagering.

HB 152, which has garnered both support and opposition in Alabama, would tax casino-style gaming at a 24% rate with 95% of revenue allocated toward a gaming trust fund. Sports betting in Alabama would be taxed at a 17% rate with the majority of revenue to be directed to the fund. A portion of wagering revenue would also go to law enforcement.

The state’s gaming trust fund would see some funds distributed to mental health care.

“We support both House Bill 152 and House Bill 152,” Alabama Council for Behavioral Healthcare Executive Director Holly McCorkle told committee members during a hearing on Tuesday. “Because mental health desperately needs a new revenue stream that would transform our communities, the system, and more importantly the lives of Alabamians.”

An Alabama tribe would also benefit from the implementation of HB 152. The bill authorizes a gaming compact for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, a federally recognized tribe.

HB 152 reserves a wagering license for the tribe on its land or at licensed establishments. Despite the inclusion of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, HB 152 has drawn concern from tribal leaders who believe the bill would divvy up profits generated from establishments.

“It’s estimated that a gaming compact would bring in millions of dollars, $300 million total as stated here,” said Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Council Vice Chairman Robert R. McGhee on Tuesday. “But we can only do that massive amount of profit sharing if we were able to actually increase our profits.”

HB 151 and HB 152 will now move to the House floor for further consideration.