Home » Compromise gambling bills include lottery, no sports betting

Compromise gambling bills include lottery, no sports betting

A conference committee of three state senators and three representatives held its first public meeting Tuesday to try to reconcile the large differences in plans for a lottery and other state-regulated gambling passed by the Alabama House and the Senate.

The committee approved compromise versions of the two bills in the gambling plan, HB151 and HB152.

The compromise bills call for a lottery, gambling on electronic machines at seven locations, a new state gambling commission, and for the governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The bills do not allow sports betting. They also do not allow table games, such as Blackjack and craps, at the seven gambling sites, which would be for electronic games only.

The seven sites would be in Jefferson, Mobile, Macon, and Greene counties, which all have facilities that operated as greyhound tracks, plus additional sites in Greene, Lowndes, and Houston counties.

Net revenue from the lottery would go to education purposes. Net revenue from the seven gambling sites would go to General Fund, or non-education needs, in the state budget.

The lottery would include an Alabama lottery, multi-state lottery games, and instant or scratch-off games.

The next step will be for the two bills to go the full House, where it would take 63 votes, three-fifths of the representatives, to approve and send to the Senate. There, it would need approval by 21 senators, three-fifths of the chamber, to approve and send to the ballot for voters, who have the final say on any bills for a lottery or other expansion of legal gambling.

Voters would have that say in a special election on Aug. 20.

The committee members approved the bills without much discussion after an explanation from the sponsor, Rep. Chris Blackshear, R-Phenix City.

Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, who handled the gambling bills in the Senate and is a member of the conference committee, said he did not expect the Senate to consider the compromise on Tuesday. It would have to pass the House first, anyway.

The House took a one-hour recess at about 3:40 p.m. Tuesday.

“I know that there’s still a lot of controversies,” Albritton said. “I know that we have been successful in one thing, and that is to make everybody mad. I don’t know if there’s anybody happy with this.

“But we’re making progress. I appreciate everybody’s efforts here.”

Lottery bills are proposed every year but none have reached the ballot since 1999.

The House passed this year’s gambling package first, on Feb. 15. It included a lottery, 10 casinos, including four that would be operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, and legal sports betting.

Three weeks later, the Senate approved a scaled-back plan that included a lottery but no sports betting and three casinos operated by the Poarch Creeks. Instead of the other full-scale casinos, the Senate plan would allow pari-mutuel gambling on simulcast races and computerized historical horse racing machines at the state’s four former greyhound tracks and three other locations.

The compromise plan, like the earlier versions, would repeal 17 local constitutional amendments that authorize bingo in the affected counties. The repeal would take effect Sept. 30, 2026.

This story will be updated.