igamingnext photo
The Alabama Senate has passed slimmed-down versions of two tabled gambling bills, excluding provisions for sports betting.

The passage of the amended HB151 and HB152 bills by the senate last week came as a blow to the state’s sports betting regulation efforts, which now face a narrow path to passage.

The bills now return to the lower house, where representatives will have the choice of passing the bills as approved in the senate, or rejecting the upper house’s changes.

If the chamber fails to give its support to the amendments, the bills will head to conference committee.

This will involve the formation of an ad-hoc committee composed of members of both bodies, charged with reconciling the differences in the legislation.

During this process, House members could aim to re-insert the original sports betting legalisation language.

“We will review both amended bills over the next few days,” Rep. Andy Whitt, who worked on the legislation, told the Alabama Reflector.

“Cleaning up illegal gaming across the state remains my top priority.”

What do the senate bills say?

Due to the state’s constitutional prohibition on gaming, HB151 seeks to amend the constitution to permit certain activities.

In additional to receiving 60% support in both chambers, an amendment must also be approved by a majority of state voters in a referendum.

The bill passed the 60% threshold in the senate, thereby fulfilling that requirement.

HB152, on the other hand, outlined the actual proposed regulatory framework for gaming in Alabama.

The senate’s version of the bill included language on the authority of the governor’s mansion to engage in tribal gaming compact negotiations with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The tribe currently operates three casinos on its sovereign land in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

It is unclear whether the proposed new law would allow the state to permit the tribe to operate sports betting through a Florida-style “hub-and-spoke” compact agreement.

In Florida this method, which is currently being examined by both state and federal court, saw the issue of a state constitutional prohibition on gambling side-stepped entirely.

The bill also provides for the operation of pari-mutual horse racing betting and the creation of a state lottery, with Alabama currently one of only five states where this is not allowed.

Amended bill reduces projected revenue

Sen. Greg Albritton said the changes made to the legislation would reduce the revenue flowing to the state coffers from $1.2bn to $330m.

In comments to the Alabama Reflector, Albritton regretted how the session had gone.

“You know it’s a bad day legislatively when you can’t get a tabling motion on a single bill, a single matter,” he said.

“It was a pretty tough day. It was an unfriendly bill with at least a semi-hostile crowd, and they were all sceptics of what was happening.”

Similar posts