Alabama lawmakers eye gambling compromise as legislative session nears its end

Alabama lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a compromise on gambling legislation that would authorize a state lottery and multiple sites with electronic gambling machines. But the measure faces an uncertain outlook in the closing days of the legislative session.

A conference committee approved the two-bill proposal as lawmakers aim to put the issue to a statewide vote this August. Lawmakers in the Alabama House of Representatives and Alabama Senate could vote on the measure as soon as Tuesday evening. It will take three-fifths of lawmakers to approve the proposed change to the Alabama Constitution to allow gambling. If approved, it will go to a statewide vote on Aug. 20.


“I don’t know. The vote is close,” Republican Sen. Greg. Albritton, a conference committee member, said of the bill’s chances in the Senate. “It will be close probably in the House too.”

Alabama Capitol in Montgomery

Exterior view of the Alabama State Capitol on March 22, 2020 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

Republican Rep. Chris Blackshear, the bill sponsor, said the proposal would authorize a state lottery and allow “electronic games of chance,” but not table games at sites in seven counties. The locations would be the dog tracks in Macon, Jefferson, Greene and Mobile counties, plus locations in Lowndes and Houston counties. It would also require the governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, he said.

Blackshear said they removed language to authorize sports betting.

The legislation has been stalled since March when senators scaled back a sweeping House-passed plan that would have allowed a lottery, sports betting and up to 10 casinos with table games. Disagreements have included the referendum date, the number of casinos and whether sports betting should be allowed.

The House of Representatives will vote first on the proposal. Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed said the Senate might take up the measure Tuesday night, but they first have to see what happens in the House.


Lawmakers are aiming for the first public vote on gambling in 25 years. Voters in 1999 rejected a lottery proposed by then-Gov. Don Siegelman.

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