New Bill Calls for Legal Online and Retail Sports Betting in Alabama

  • Representative John Rogers’ HB161 would allow betting on pro and college sports
  • The Alabama Sports Wagering Commission would act as a regulator and issue the seven licenses
  • The bill proposes a 10% tax on gross sports betting receipts with most funds going to education
  • HB161 is currently sitting with the Economic Development and Tourism Committee
  • Previous attempts to legalize sports betting in Alabama have been unsuccessful
University of Alabama marching band
A new bill in Alabama calls for the legalization of online and retail sports betting. Wagering on both professional and college sports would be permitted. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Seven licenses would be available

State Representative John Rogers has pre-filed House Bill 161 (HB161), aimed at legalizing online and retail sports betting in Alabama. 

retail sports betting could take place at licensed gaming facilities

As part of the bill, anyone who is at least 21 years old could bet on professional and college sports. While Alabama has no commercial casinos, retail sports betting could take place at licensed gaming facilities, such as bingo establishments or racetracks.

The legislation would create the Alabama Sports Wagering Commission (ASWC) to oversee sports betting regulation and licensing. Up to seven licenses would be available at a cost of $100,000 each. The licenses would be valid for five years, with a renewal fee of $100,000.  

Allocation of tax revenue

HB161 proposes a 10% tax on licensees’ gross sports betting receipts, due on a weekly basis. A Sports Wagering Fund would be set up to handle the sports betting tax revenue. The ASWC would keep 15% of tax revenue for operational purposes, up to a monthly cap of $250,000. 

The rest of the money would then go toward higher education scholarships in the state. In addition to operators, licenses for sports betting services suppliers, equipment suppliers, and management would be available.

At the moment, the bill is sitting with the Alabama House of Representatives Economic Development and Tourism Committee, which will read the bill for the first time on February 2. If ultimately successful, the legislation would go into effect on “the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the Governor.”

Resistance to gambling expansion

Alabama has long been a conservative state when it comes to gambling. It is one of just six states in the country that does not currently have a state lottery.

main forms of gambling in the state are daily fantasy sports, horse and dog racing, and bingo

Over the years, lawmakers have attempted to pass bills that would create a state lottery or some other form of gambling expansion to little success. Currently, the main forms of gambling in the state are daily fantasy sports, horse and dog racing, and bingo.

Representative Rogers introduced a similar bill to HB161 in March 2020 in an attempt to legalize online and retail sports betting, but it did not make much progress. A notable difference between the two bills is the increase in the number of available licenses from four to seven.