SCOTUS Sports Betting Decision Sparks Legislation Movement with Alabama in the Mix

Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama.

The United States Supreme Court decision on Monday to open the door to legalized sports betting across the nation has set off a firestorm of activity. Many states are considering legalizing the gambling option, including conservative Alabama.

The decision by SCOTUS rendered PASPA invalid. That’s the law that prohibited individual states from legalizing sports betting. Now that states can legalize the activity, several are already considering how to get started in the industry, if they’re not already working on legislation. The conservative state of Alabama has the potential to legalize bookmaking, with reportedly fewer legislative hurdles present than with lottery gaming.

Alabama’s sports betting potential

In the past, Alabama has tried to establish a state lottery, but efforts have failed continually. As part of the Bible Belt, religious groups and conservative Republicans have fought against any gambling legislation, including proposals for a state lottery, even though the school systems could benefit greatly from lottery proceeds. In the state, gambling is limited to tribal casinos, where only Class 2 gaming is allowed, meaning slots and bingo games.

In Alabama, it seems that experts believe sports betting legislation would be easier to pass than measures involving lottery gaming due to sports betting not being banned explicitly by the state’s constitution. To be legalized, sports betting would only require approval by the legislature. With lottery-style gaming, a referendum would have to be created to amend the constitution of the state and then voters would have to give their approval before the gaming option could take place. With sports betting, all of the extra steps can reportedly be avoided.

It will most likely take Democratic officials to get the ball rolling for sports betting to gain any ground in Alabama. Democrat Sue Bell Cobb is currently running for governor of the state and has said that, if elected, she would try to see sports betting legalized in Alabama. Reportedly, Cobb is working with Danny Sheridan, a sports betting expert based in Mobile, to create a proposal for legislation.

Cobb said: “Alabama cannot afford to miss out on an opportunity like legalized sports betting, which will pump much-needed revenue into state coffers. Nationally, over $150 billion is bet on sports each year. Danny Sheridan, a nationally recognized leader in sports handicapping and oddsmaking, is consulting with my team as we develop our proposal for the legalization and regulation of sports betting in the state. It is clear that the people of Alabama are going to bet on sports, and we should be working to bring the industry above-board and to use the revenue it will generate to support our general fund.”

Alabama is a strongly conservative state but, over the past few months, changes have been taking place in politics, so there is a chance that sports betting could come to pass. Back in December, Democrat Doug Jones won a US Senate seat in Alabama from Republican Roy Moore, a feat that many thought was impossible. Cobb has the potential to win the Governor’s race. If she does, Alabama would have liberal legislators in place that could lead to sports betting, and even lottery gaming in the future.

Other states are preparing

With sports betting now open to all states, movements are being made on a state-by-state basis to get in on the action. Of course, Nevada already offers sports betting and New Jersey should be ready to offer wagering in just a few weeks. Several states have already enacted laws to allow sports betting or have legislation that is being fast-tracked. These states include Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Connecticut, West Virginia, New York, and Iowa.

Other states fall into the category of moving towards legislation. Efforts have only just begun or plans have been announced to do so in the following states: South Carolina, California, Rhode Island, Illinois, Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Kentucky, Michigan, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

In Oregon and Montana, laws are already on the books to allow some type of sports betting. If lawmakers so choose, the legislation could be broadened to a wider scope of offerings.