Gambling legislation reportedly back on the agenda when Alabama Legislature returns in March.
Alabama is preparing to review gambling legislation in the state’s next legislative session, which begins March 2024, according to the Alabama Political Reporter.
The pending reconsideration will be spearheaded by House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, who assembled a committee to advocate for gambling legislation in Alabama. The committee is planning to introduce a piece of legislation that would permit sports betting at approved locations across the state. The bill would also expand existing gambling legislation in the state and ban illegal gambling operations.
“We just can’t let this go on any longer. It’s a public safety issue,” said Ledbetter. “If we pass this legislation and put in place serious enforcement and regulations, we’ll go from more than a thousand gambling outfits to just around 10 – 10 that are well regulated and licensed.”
The pending bill introduced by Ledbetter does not include the consideration of online wagering.
Lawmakers in Alabama have been fighting for legislation that supports gambling for several years. A bill introduced in 2024 by Ledbetter would mark the 15th time in the past 20 or so legislative sessions that lawmakers in Alabama have attempted to pass gambling legislation.
In 2022, Alabama’s Senate Tourism Committee introduced two bills — SB 293 and SB 294 — that aimed to authorize a state lottery and statewide online sports wagering in partnership with tribal casinos. The bills found favor in Alabama’s Senate but failed to garner enough support in the House before the end of the state’s 2022 legislative session.
That same year, Alabama state representative John Rogers introduced HB 405, which proposed to authorize sports betting in Jefferson County only. The bill was read but died in the Jefferson County House Committee.
Authorizing sports betting in Alabama faces an uphill battle in 2024 due to previous legislative history. However, the growth of the industry across America paired with a new approach by Ledbetter to prevent illegal gambling operations could bolster sports wagering’s chances.