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Isaiah Bond, Jermaine Burton, and Roydell Williams of the Alabama Crimson Tide react after a catch against the Georgia Bulldogs.
Isaiah Bond, Jermaine Burton, and Roydell Williams of the Alabama Crimson Tide react after a catch against the Georgia Bulldogs. Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images via AFP.

A broad and expansive legal sports betting platform could be coming to Alabama if a few lawmakers in the state have their way.

On Thursday, Rep. Chris Blackshear (R) and Rep. Andy Whitt (R) introduced House Bill (HB) 152, which aims to legalize both in-person and online sports betting in the state. A separate bill, HB 151, was also introduced on Thursday with similar goals.

Broadly speaking, those bills would expand the state's existing gambling platform beyond the few tribal-owned casinos that currently exist, while also legalizing sports betting and an official state lottery, both of which are currently barred by the state's constitution.

There are still many hoops such bills will be required to jump through, but the announcement of both is a sign that our best sports betting sites could be coming to Alabama - one of 12 states that still don't allow it in any form.

HB 151 looks to legalize betting in Alabama

HB 151 aims to bring a broad retail and best sports betting apps platform to Alabama, which would be regulated by a newly formed Alabama Gaming Commission.

Such a move would require a constitutional amendment to become law. That means that voters would first be asked to weigh in on the possibility of legalized sports betting on the November general election ballot.

Included in the legislation would be a new state lottery, sports betting, raffles, paper bingo, and in-person casino-style games that could only be accessed at brick-and-mortar facilities in the state.

The bill leaves the door open to other forms of gambling down the road but states that, for now, all other forms of gaming in the state would be prohibited.

HB 152 outlines detailed plan for sports betting

HB 152 reveals a more complete version of what a potential legal sports betting platform in Alabama could look like. It, too, would require a constitutional amendment and ultimately ask voters to decide on whether or not they support  legal sports wagering in the state.

Up to seven casinos would be created with HB 152, and both retail and online sports betting would be launched under the bill for those 21 years or older. 

Like HB 151, regulation of the platform would fall to a newly formed Alabama Gaming Commission. The bill would also see the creation of an Alabama Gaming Enforcement Division, which would be in charge of enforcing the rules of the platform and policing all involved in the sports betting industry.

HB 152 would set a 17% tax rate on sports betting net gaming revenue. Some tax revenue would be earmarked for what would be a “Gaming Trust Fund” slated to help with infrastructure and healthcare initiatives in the state. Meanwhile, 10% of the tax funds would be used “exclusively for law enforcement purposes of the respective sheriff’s department.”

Will either HB 151 or HB 152 pass?

Legal sports betting initiatives have been a tough sell in the southern states, but those advocating for legalization hope that Tennessee sports betting's well-established platform and Mississippi sports betting's recent moves toward legalization help Alabama's cause.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) threw support behind HB 152 last week during her State of the State address and hopes that Alabama voters will get their say on the matter in November. 

“This year, when Alabamians make their way to the ballot box, I hope they will be voting on another issue: gaming,” Ivey said. “I believe the current proposal being contemplated by the Legislature is good for Alabama, and I will be carefully watching it move through the process. It will crack down on illegal gambling, and it will responsibly regulate limited forms of legal gaming, including a statewide lottery.

"Thank you to Speaker (Nathaniel) Ledbetter and his leadership team for their hard work on this. Now is the time for Alabama voters to have another say on this issue.”

The momentum is there for a legal Alabama sports betting bill, but as we've seen in the past, the trick remains getting an initiative over the finish line. Expect to hear more chatter as proponents in Alabama attempt to join their state with 38 others - plus Washington D.C. - in the U.S. legal sports betting family, while trying to seize on a potential new tax revenue windfall that would be created by such a platform.