Alabama isn’t a very gambling friendly state, but that could be changing.
The state recently released a report analyzing the potential impacts of casinos, a lottery, and sports betting apps. To the north of Alabama is Tennessee, which kicked off its sports wagering industry on Nov. 1 and saw more than $130 million in handle during the month. Alabama gambling dollars have long been going into Tennessee for lottery play, but sports betting gives people one more reason to get in their cars.
The study was delivered to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey in mid-December. While the efforts to put a constitutional amendment up to voters for gambling are a long shot in 2021, momentum could be building for the state. Sports betting looks to be inevitable due to its adoption elsewhere.
Tennessee was featured prominently in the massive 876-page report. The Volunteer State has long had a lottery, so most of the references were with regard to that activity possibly being authorized in Alabama. The state is one of only five in the country without a state-run lottery.
How lucrative could ‘Bama betting be?
According to the study, Alabama would see about $10 million in annual tax revenue from legal sports betting. That’s a relatively conservative estimate, but it depends on how the industry is set up. The report indicated that the state would see about $100 million in taxable industry revenue. Sports betting companies estimate that state residents are currently betting about $2.3 billion per year.
“[S]ports betting could be an important component of gambling in Alabama, should the State approve expanded gambling offerings, as it should generate significant fiscal benefit,” the report stated. “Anecdotally, Alabama is said to have one of the highest rates of illegal sports betting, and it is believed that the introduction of legal, regulated sports betting will curb illegal activity, which could be an added social benefit of legalized gambling.”
Approval isn’t a slam dunk, however. The study found that 52% of Alabamans favor online sports betting, with 41% opposed. A referendum on sports betting could be tight. Tennessee didn’t need a referendum.