AL Sen. Greg Albritton Pushed Gambling in Prior Legislative Session, Will Again in 2023
If you want to gamble in Alabama right now, you’d have to go to one of the three tribal casinos operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to place your action, and don’t bother looking for any lottery tickets there because they are one of the few U.S. states still without a lottery.
That is the battle Cotton State sports betting advocates like state Senator Greg Albritton face as he tries to change the minds of fellow lawmakers, voters, and native tribal leaders in Alabama to embrace a new lucrative market that over thirty other states are already engaging in since 2018.
Sen. Albritton is fresh off a defeat, his potential sports betting legislation for Alabama having failed to make it past the Senate chamber, just one of a few such proposals that was rejected during that term, and now Albritton vows to fight another day, or at least during the next session.
It’s not for a lack of effort, as Albritton recently told Maddie Biertempfel of WHNT:
I’m doing all that I know to do. I’m still trying to work with House members and reach out to the governor’s office to find out where we are and to draw a consensus.
It could be that the broad scope of Albritton’s ideas that has created too many roadblocks to bypass.
Albritton Wants to Bring Casinos, Sports Betting, and the Lottery to Alabama
When it comes to gambling in Alabama, bettors are limited to three Wind Creek Casino & Hotel locations (Atmore, Montgomery, and Wetumpka) all owned and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, plus there is a racino, Victoryland, in Macon that features greyhound races.
What Sen. Albritton attempted to do in 2022 was introduce proposals to bring more commercial casinos, legal sports betting, and a state lottery to Alabama, all those would only be possible by changing the state constitution, which he also proposed to do this prior session, saying:
I think there’s a recognition that there’s a need that Alabama take control of this industry. The requirement that Alabama needs to benefit from the gaming that’s already going on.
It turned out to be too much, too quickly, and the other lawmakers balked and Albritton’s comprehensive plan never made it past the Senate floor let alone to the House and then Governor Kay Ivey’s desk, a major setback that doesn’t seem to discourage Albritton.
Some of the biggest pushback to sports betting in Alabama came from the electronic bingo halls.
Alabama Bingo Halls Pose Biggest Opposition to Bringing Gambling There
The electronic bingo halls that operate all over Alabama objected to Sen. Albritton’s gambling proposal not because they are against the idea of bringing that action to that state but because of the way he chose to do it.
The bill Albritton proposed named specific bingo halls as potential sites for this new sports betting market and industry leaders thought that was “picking losers and winners” and made it clear they wanted to give every location a shot at this operation via open bidding.
Alabama’s next legislative session is scheduled to start on January 9, 2023, and will adjourn on the last day of April, so Sen. Albritton has until then to restructure his ideas in such a way that both sides will be happy with the way this new market might look.
Keep checking back for all the latest news and updates on this ongoing story.