Forward-thinking pro-gambling types and those with a more outmoded and often religious bent had regularly conflicted with each other on the subject of sports betting and casino games in Alabama. This was the case even before the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was repealed by the US Supreme Court in May 2018.
But is gambling legal in Alabama nowadays?
Like with many states banning gambling, Alabama has in the past lifted sanctions. Namely, when it comes to Native American casinos, horse racing and dog racing. However, those who are pro-gambling have argued that the state has simply lost out on billions in legal tax dollars. Thousands of residents want to gamble in Alabama but simply move across state lines to Mississippi to do so.
Is gambling legal in Alabama?
As is always the case across America, not every state has the same laws surrounding gambling. What's more, even when it is legalised not all forms of betting are accepted or tolerated. In Alabama, here’s how the most common forms of gambling are permitted:
Bingo IS legal in Alabama, but only in Tribal Indian casinos. While both bingo games and raffles are OK under strict rules across the state.
Casino Table Games
These are NOT legal in Alabama. In tribal land-based casinos, games are limited to two bingo and slots games per facility. However, no casino table games of any type are permitted in Alabama. It's this ban that drives the hordes across to other states.
NO. There is no state lottery in Alabama and the state does not participate in any national games. Talks have been held about introducing a state lottery, but frankly, it seems a long way off.
Online Casino Games
Again, these are NOT legal. If you are in Alabama and can (somehow) access your online casino account, you’d be breaking state law. There is currently no specific law covering this, but the general law banning casinos currently covers the online world too.
Again, NO. Poker isn’t legal in Alabama. Given that there is no dissimilitude assumed between this and casino table games, it’s banned. The ban also covers online poker, much to the chagrin of Alabama residents who, like the rest of the world, have fallen in love with the game.
YES, sort of! Alabama is not as of yet is not one of the states to have changed its laws after PASPA was repealed in 2018. Therefore, you won’t be able to bet on football online for example. However, since 1971 horse racing and greyhound racing has been exempt as it is seen as a game of skill rather than chance.
Even betting on the horses needs to be done at the track. Or at an authorised off-track betting facility via the pari-mutuel system.
How Did ‘Bama Get to This Point?
Those looking on from Europe or Australasia probably can’t understand why the Alabaman gambling laws are so draconian.
Granted, it does have a gambling history coming from the famous steamboat card game affairs which crossed between here and Mississippi. However, while the neighbouring state welcomed legalised gambling, Alabama stayed a lot more conservative. This has not changed in a long old time.
Most of the laws we see today surrounding gambling in Alabama were set out as far back as 1901. At that time, the state constitution defined gambling as any game played for financial gain with an element of chance.
Because of this, even when a game does take skill such as (arguably) poker, it is still outlawed. This is due to the fact that there is still a chance element involved.
Both horse racing and greyhound racing were made exempt based on the fact that it is assumed one would need to have a proper knowledge of the sport in order to pick out what is thought to be a sound bet, meaning pari-mutuel betting pools are allowed and they remain the only way for punters to get a bet on.
Given the cultural differences between natives and other residents in Alabama, tribal casinos have been allowed to exist but they are under weighty restrictions and can only offer a limited number of games.
As discussed, no table games are allowed and arguments have ensued in recent years after tribal casinos introduced electronic bingo games into the casinos. Bingo is legal in Alabama, but the electronic machines were found by the Supreme Court to be covered by the 1901 state constitution and so were quickly banned too!
Given the state of play at the moment in Alabama, poker lovers don’t see things changing any time soon and so if you head there and wish to make a sport bet online, simply forget about it.