Almost all gambling games are illegal in the state of Alabama, including sports betting. Unlike neighboring Mississippi which now receives substantial revenues from casinos and sports books, this Bible Belt state is heavily restrictive even though the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in May 2018 that could pave the way for sports betting throughout the nation.
Rep. Rich Wingo of Tuscaloosa said sports gambling would "pervert" the games, including the state's favorite sport in college football.
"Now all of a sudden, people will be watching Alabama and Auburn because they have money on the line and then the field goal kicker misses the field goal," said the former pro football player.
"It puts it in a different perspective with money on the line rather than a sport and an enjoyable event versus something you could lose on financially."
Outside of a few tribal-owned casinos and one greyhound racetrack, residents of Alabama must travel across state lines to wager on the Crimson Tide or try their luck on a slot machine.
Betting Laws in Alabama
Almost five million people live in the state of Alabama, also known as the Yellowhammer State since the Civil War. Montgomery is the capital, while Birmingham is the largest city with a population of more than 200,000 residents.
Alabama gambling laws — whether it's dog racing at Birmingham Race Course or the slots at Wind Creek Atmore casino — is regulated at the state level.
All legalized gambling within Alabama is limited to the following areas:
- Tribal casino gambling
- Pari-mutuel wagering
- Charitable gambling
You have to be at least 18 years old in the state of Alabama to play bingo or bet on horse and dog racing. You have to be at least 21 years old to play at one of the few tribal-based casinos.
There are a few tribal casinos in Alabama, but they are heavily restricted in terms of the games they are allowed to offer. There are no table games at all, only slots and bingo-type games. The gambling restrictions force Alabama residents to either go to offshore sites — like Bovada — to play or make a trip across state lines to Mississippi.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians operate three gaming facilities in Alabama, located in the eastern part of the state. The state sued the tribe in 2013 to close the three casinos. It took two years of litigation to finally have the suit thrown out by the courts.
Horse and dog racing
The state legalized pari-mutuel wagering on horse and dog races in 1971. Alabama's first track opened in 1973, but the tracks have barely survived by offering less-prestigious greyhound racing for several years.
Alabama is one of the few states that still offers dog racing. And there is no sign that live horse racing will return any time soon. Betting on horse racing is still popular within the state, with most residents opting to use online racebooks for wagering. However, there are still a few racetracks and off-track betting locations within the state — like VictoryLand in Shorter.
Alabama is one of the few locations in the United States that does not have a state lottery. Along with Mississippi and Utah, Alabama's prohibition on a state lottery is strongly rooted in religious objections. But there have been efforts to change that in this state in the Deep South, even though it would require a constitutional amendment.
Daily fantasy betting
Another attempt to legalize daily fantasy betting in Alabama was proposed in early 2018. It failed for the third year in a row. There is no definitive law regarding online gambling in the Heart of Dixie. However, the only brand of gambling that is securely legal in Alabama today is pari-mutuel wagering.
Alabama Sports Betting Laws
Alabama would be considered one of the longest shots on the board when it comes to the odds of the state legalizing sports betting. Lawmakers just don't seem in any hurry at all to make it happen.
While other nearby states are benefiting from added gambling tax revenues to help fund education, critics in Alabama contend that legalized gambling isn't worth the headache.
The problem is, if you live in Alabama and want to bet on the Crimson Tide, there are many options available online or a short drive away to get in on the action. Mississippi casinos, 26 years since first opening in 1992, are cashing in to the tune of more than $2 billion a year. That number should increase since they started taking sports bets in August 2018.
"President Trump will kneel for the National Anthem before Alabamians will get to vote on lottery, casinos and sports betting," said Danny Sheridan, a nationally known sports analyst and oddsmaker who resides in Mobile.
Even in 2019, the state has no plans to amend any gambling laws, including sports betting.
Alabama's Favorite Sports Teams
Alabama does not have any major league sports team within state borders. The closest franchises would be located in Atlanta, Georgia, to the east and Nashville, Tennessee, to the north.
There are the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans in the NFL, Atlanta Hawks in the NBA, Atlanta Braves in the MLB and Nashville Predators in the NHL. But make no mistake: The most popular team in this state is college football's Alabama Crimson Tide, which plays its home games in Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide are among the most storied and decorated football programs in NCAA history. Since beginning play in 1892, the team has won 17 national championships. Roll Tide!