Alabama Sports Betting Bill Filed To Compete With Neighboring Tennessee

Alabama could move forward with sports betting in 2021 under legislation that hit the table Tuesday.

House Bill 161 would lead to both retail and online/mobile sportsbooks in the state. Neighboring Tennessee has no retail locations, instead opting for an online-only market.

Under the Alabama bill, a newly created Alabama Sports Wagering Commission would levy and collect a 10% tax on adjusted gross sports wagering receipts. The commission could issue up to seven licenses to “a facility where pari-mutuel wagering is permitted.”

A $100,000 license would include the ability to offer mobile betting. Facilities could partner with prominent sports betting brands to offer betting statewide.

In addition to allowing people physically present within Alabama to bet on sports, the bill would allow interstate wagering, though it’s unclear how that would work under the current legal reading of the 1961 Wire Act, which applies to sports betting.

From the bill: “An operator may accept wagers from an individual physically located in a state or jurisdiction with which the commission has entered into a sports wagering agreement and using a mobile or other digital platform or a sports wagering device, through the patron’s sports wagering account, if the device or platform is approved by the commission and all other requirements of the agreement are satisfied.”

The legislation would allow betting on in-state collegiate teams, a key asset since Alabama football is king in the state.

The odds of the bill passing this year, however, are unclear. The good news is that sports betting wouldn’t require a constitutional amendment, according to the legislation.

Alabama would potentially be joining a sports betting frenzy in the U.S., as on Tuesday, Tennessee reported $180.9 million in sports betting handle from the month of December, just the state’s second month with sportsbooks. Some of that surely came from Alabamans.

Georgia, another neighbor of Tennessee and Alabama, has a sports betting bill up for consideration this year as well.