Published: May 1, 2024

Gambling legislation stumbles in Alabama Senate, lawmakers delay vote

After months of contention, Alabama lawmakers have seemingly reached an impasse on the gambling bills introduced this legislative session.

On Tuesday, a six-member Conference Committee approved tweaked versions of House Bills 151 and 152 that would finally introduce a statewide lottery to Alabama, all proceeds of which would go towards a special supplemental Education Trust Fund appropriation.

The bills would also allow for certain electronic games at seven venues across the state, including racetracks in Greene, Jefferson, Macon and Mobile Counties, as well as bingo halls in Greene, Houston and Lowndes counties.

Hours after the compromise was introduced to the House, representatives successfully passed HB 151, the constitutional amendment that authorizes a state lottery and certain types of electronic gaming with a 72-79 vote.

Some of its key features include:

  • Authorizes the Alabama Education Lottery
  • Authorizes electronic games of chance at seven locations taxed between 20-28%
  • Requires the governor to enter compact negotiations with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians limited to in-person activities on lands held in trust prior to February 6, 2024
  • Repeals local bingo Constitutional Amendments effective September 30, 2026, and gives the Alabama Gambling Commission authority over them until that repeal
  • Prohibits future local gambling Constitutional Amendments

HB 152, the enabling legislation that creates the Alabama Gambling Commission, Alabama Lottery Corporation and lays out the nuts and bolts of gaming licensing moving forward, passed 70-29.

Some of its key features include:

  • The establishment of the Alabama Gambling Commission under the Senate passed-structure
  • License structure for seven electronic gambling locations
    • Must meet suitability
    • 10-year license ranging from $15-30 million per license
    • Option of a 15-year license with $100,000,000 capital investment
    • Option of a 20-year license with $200,000,000 capital investment
    • Tax rate of 24% for the first five years, then subject to adjustment by the Alabama Gambling Commission, not to exceed 28%
    • All gambling proceeds for general fund related expenses subject to annual appropriation
  • Senate-passed criminal law enhancements
  • The Establishment of the Alabama Lottery Corporation under the House-passed structure
  • All lottery proceeds will benefit education through last-dollar scholarships to two and 4-year higher education institutions, dual enrollment and retiree bonuses, subject to annual appropriation

“I'm proud that the House and Senate conferees were successful in finding a compromise on this very important issue," said House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter. “The legislation passed in the House today cracks down on illegal gambling by implementing strong, clear and enforceable laws. It ensures all lottery proceeds, which are projected to exceed $300 million annually, benefit education and education only. Most importantly, it allows the people of Alabama to vote on this issue for the first time in 25 years.

Ledbetter's words would ring hollow however after the Senate convened late Tuesday night following an extended recess.

Needing the approval of 21 of the Senate's 35 members, HB 151 fell just short of the finish line with a final vote of 20-15.

However, following a moment of apparent confusion on the floor, the Senate chaotically, and quite vocally, voted to carry the bill over.

It is unclear at this time where both bills' future stands.,Needing%20the%20approval%20of%2021%20of%20the%20Senate's%2035%20members,to%20carry%20the%20bill%20over.

© Public Gaming Research Institute. All rights reserved.