Is Gambling Legal In Alabama

Posted : admin On 08.03.2021

An overview and timeline of gambling laws within the state of Alabama. Includes where to play legally, online gaming and charitable poker. Is Gambling Legal in Alabama and what are the best online casinos for players in AL? Top Online Casinos in. Alabama casinos, cruise ships, horsetracks and dogtracks - the complete gambling landscape of Alabama. Includes Alabama casino details, gambling news and tweets in Alabama, area maps, Alabama. Read about Alabama's poker laws and legal system here. This review covers casino gambling and legal Alabama poker sites as well as the history of Alabama gambling. How to gamble online if you live in the USA. Is gambling legal in the US? Which US States ban online gambling. Which States regulate online gambling?

  1. Is Casino Gambling Legal In Alabama
  2. Is Off Track Betting Legal In Alabama
  3. Is Online Betting Legal In Alabama

When it comes to states synonymous with the South and its traditions, there may be no greater representative than Alabama. Its contributions and appearances in American history are legion, both good and bad.

However, there may be no state more confused about its identity with respect to gambling than Alabama. It has forged its own unique place as perhaps the most on-again, off-again state in the union.

Online gambling

Alabama’s official stance on online gambling is similar to that of many states. There is no law definitively for or against online gambling in the Heart of Dixie. However, the only brand of gambling that is securely legal in Alabama is pari-mutuel facilities.

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Furthermore, there is no state lottery in Alabama. This negates a common avenue for proponents of gambling to introduce slot machine-type gambling to regions of the country. So, the current climate for typical online gambling is fairly negative, even though its status under the law is uncertain. AL sports betting is not yet legal.

However, Alabama is moving forward with the Fantasy Sports Bill. It recently cleared the state house and could become law in the near future. The bill, dubbed HB354, now moves to the Alabama State Senate. In theory, it could be on the governor’s desk within a few weeks. There are some rumbles of constitutional difficulty with the bill though, because of Alabama’s express prohibition of gambling in its chief legislative document.

Interestingly though, supporters of the bill have managed to turn the discourse about DFS into one where daily fantasy sports is primarily a skill game. Thus it cannot be considered gambling under state law. This structuring of the argument could potentially open the door for other expansions in the state for skill-heavy games, such as poker. For right now, the best thing to do is wait and see. But it does seem that things might be shifting down on the Delta.

Likely online gambling operators

OperatorNotes
FanDuel/DraftKingsLargest daily fantasy sports operators – likely waiting in the wings for legislation to pass
The Poarch Band of Creek IndiansOwn three casinos in eastern Alabama
Milton McGregorOwns Victoryland racino and has endured work stoppages, lawsuits, and even arrests to bring gambling to Alabamans

Social casino options

The social casino options in Alabama are typical of most states. Slotomania, Double Down Casino, Big Fish, ZyngaPoker, and Zynga Slots are all available.

However, Alabama’s laws are uniquely harsh when it comes to enforcement. Even social gambling is barred inside the state, to the point that players in home games have found themselves on the receiving end of the criminal justice system. Players should exercise great caution in playing any type of casino game in Alabama. This includes the free social ones on Facebook or mobile devices.

The option about which to be especially cautious is MyVegas. This is MGM’s free slots app that allows players to build up loyalty points in a banked account. The danger lies in the fact that these loyalty points can be exchanged for real-world comps at participating MGM properties and partners, including some properties in nearby Mississippi. It would not be a stretch for Alabama to apply its stringent anti-gambling laws to the receipt of these prizes.

State casino operator history

Pari-Mutuel wagering

Is gambling illegal in alabama

Alabama has one of the more hit-and-miss gambling histories in the US. The state legalized pari-mutuel wagering on horse and dog races in 1971. Its first track opened in 1973, but the tracks have been malingering along by offering less-prestigious greyhound racing for several years.

Bingo

Its first bingo parlor opened in 1980 when a single county legalized it (Jefferson, through constitutional amendment). However, the state has had to pass 18 more amendments to bring bingo to each new county that desires the game.

Most notably, the game of electronic bingo has gone back and forth in legality several times since 2003. Voters in Macon County approved a constitutional amendment to allow the machines at the Victoryland racetrack. This began a comical cycle of the facility placing machines at the location and the government confiscating the machines and associated cash, along with closing down the entire facility, only to have the racetrack reopen again with new machines. This cycle has occurred at least twice, and many small debates have raged between these blow-ups. As of September 2016, Alabamans can once again play electronic bingo at Victoryland. No word on when the next raid and shutdown will occur.

Lottery

The state does not offer a lottery option to its residents, even though lottery is often the exception for many states (like Texas) that are traditionally opposed to gambling. Various important citizens in the state have been campaigning for a lottery since 1993. In fact, it was a major plank for Don Siegelman when he successfully ran for governor in 1998. Even so, he still couldn’t get the constitution amended to allow lottery. There was hope for some movement in 2020, but the regular legislative session adjourned without a hearing on any lottery proposals.

Casinos

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 allowed federally recognized tribes to operate gaming facilities on tribal lands, and in Alabama, the only tribe to do so is the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The tribe operates three Class II facilities (meaning no table games) in the eastern part of the state. They generate tax revenue for Alabama’s government. Naturally, 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.

The most silver of linings for Alabama residents is the state’s proximity to Mississippi. There are two different areas of note for casino gambling in Mississippi – Biloxi/Gulfport and Tunica. Over 30 casinos are spread across Alabama’s neighbor to the west, and the Biloxi locations are especially accessible to residents in the southern part of Alabama. Mobile is a short hour’s drive away.

Still, much like flowers in the desert, four facilities have managed to find a way to live in the Heart of Dixie. They are listed below.

Land-based casinos

PropertyLocationOwnership
Wind Creek Casino and Hotel AtmoreAtmoreThe Poarch Band of Creek Indians
Wind Creek Casino and Hotel WetumpkaWetumpkaThe Poarch Band of Creek Indians
Wind Creek Casino and Hotel MontgomeryMontgomeryThe Poarch Band of Creek Indians
VictorylandShorterMilton McGregor

State Legal Environment

Permitted/Offered?Notes & Restrictions
Land-Based GamblingYesPari-mutuel wagering mostly – some electronic bingo, but tentative legal status
Online GamblingNoDaily fantasy sports may be available soon
LotteryNo
Charitable or House-Based GamblingYesBingo only – NO SOCIAL GAMBLING
Minimum Gambling Age18 for pari-mutuel; 21 for casinos

An Overview of Gambling Laws in the State Of Alabama

Alabama has seen religious elements and progressives clash over the subject of gambling for many years. The State constitution has a very wide definition of gambling, and as with most States it bans it all – the difference here is that there are very few exemptions. There are harsh penalties, which get worse on Sundays! Over the years there have been carve-outs for dog and horse racing, and for bingo and slots at tribal casinos. Many Alabamians cross over to Mississippi casinos instead – giving a massive boost to the State coffers of that State. This page covers Alabama gambling laws in depth.

First below you will find a quick-fire history, which will give you an overview and flavor of gambling in Alabama – right up to the present day. After that a game-by-game guide to what is currently legal or banned can be found – followed by a timeline of the legislation controls gambling in this State. At the end of this page you will find a quick summary of the present situation and a look into the possible scenarios for the future.

Alabama Gambling Laws – A Brief History

Alabama shares a lot of colorful gambling history with its neighbor Mississippi. The Steam boat casinos with their card-sharps and other shady characters would have been an amazing experience more than a century ago. Unlike Mississippi, who embraced gambling and now receives substantial revenues from casinos – Alabama has gone the conservative route, and almost all gambling games are illegal in this state.

The 1901 State constitution sets the tone. This defines gambling as any game for financial gain with an element of chance. This means that even games of skill are outlawed if there is an element of chance involved. Poker is the obvious ‘victim’ of this loose interpretation.

Greyhound and horse racing did get an exemption from this definition of gambling. The argument goes that this is entirely based on the skill of both the animal and jockey, and so not a game of chance. Pari-mutuel betting can take place on-track and the races can be enjoyed on TV.

There are tribal casinos in Alabama, though these 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. There was a later attempt to introduce electronic bingo games. These were allowed and then quickly withdrawn when a Supreme Court ruling judged them to be covered by that 1901 definition.

Alabama

The status-quo in Alabama is that gambling remains banned, and those who like to gamble either go to offshore online sites (which are not explicitly illegal, though assumed to be covered by the 1901 act), or hop over the Mississippi. This keeps the religious majority in this State happy – and does give some avenues for those who enjoy gambling.

Alabama Gambling Laws – What Forms Of Gambling Are Currently Legal?

Here is a quick run through of the different gambling formats, including a note on whether they are currently legal according to Alabama law.

Casino Games: No, there are tribal casinos, however these are limited to class 2 slots and bingo games. Casino table games are not legal under Alabama law. Crossing the Mississippi to gamble in their casinos where these games are feely available is very popular.

Online Casinos: No, again there are no laws relating to the online component, though casino gambling is banned and those laws are assumed to cover the internet too.

Live Poker: No, there is no distinction in the laws of this state between poker and other table games like Blackjack. You can play home-games or ‘social poker games’, which are defined as games between friends where the house or organizer takes no profit or rake. The ‘social’ defense has been used in court, though the understanding of residents is that these games are best kept between friends and not widely advertised.

Online Poker: No, there are no specific laws banning online poker. Poker is not seen as a skill game under the definition of gambling games in this state. Any game with some element of chance is considered gambling. There are no indications that Alabama will regulate online poker games any time soon.

Sports Betting: Yes, you can bet on greyhound racing and horse racing at several tracks in Alabama. This form of gambling was exempted from the 1901 laws as a game of skill in 1971. Gambling is via pari-mutuel pools and can be watched on TV.

Lottery Betting: No, there is no State lottery in Alabama, and this State does not participate in any national schemes.

Bingo: Yes, bingo exists at Indian Casinos, though there are currently legal battles going on covering electronic bingo machines. Bingo and raffle games are also legal under charitable gambling laws, under strict license and conditions.

Alabama Gambling Laws – Timeline of Key Statutes

During Civil War times there were lotteries running which included neighboring Southern States. These ended in acrimony, with Louisiana leaving the deal under protest. The current legal situation in Alabama all comes from the State’s constitution enacted in 1901. It is this which paints the broad definition of gambling – and everything since then has revolved around carve-outs or crack-downs based on this initial legal document. Here is the timeline of events.

1901: Alabama State constitution bans all forms of gambling with wording broad enough to encompass just about every game you can think of.

“…stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence…” (From 13A-12-20)

Over the years this definition has been interpreted as covering any game with even an element of chance. For example, some people argue that poker is a game of skill, however since the turning of cards is a chance factor – this is considered gambling under Alabama law.

1971: Pari-Mutuel betting at greyhound racing and horse racing tracks is ruled Legal by the Supreme Court. This is overseen by the Alabama Racing Commission – and has since been extended to betting on televised live races.

1980: Charitable bingo gambling begins.

1988: Casinos are made legal on tribal territories within Alabama by the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. These casinos are restricted to slot machines and some type of Bingo games. This leads to the opening of 3 tribal casinos in this State – though most residents simply travel to Mississippi to enjoy the table games which are still banned under Alabaman law.

In more recent years there have been attempts to restart a State lottery, to have electronic bingo machines in the current casinos and a crack-down on video poker machines. While these have been debated in the courts and State government – each time the 1901 law has stood up. As far as gambling is concerned, if there is an element of chance – then it is banned.

One bright note for Alabamans, there has so far been no individual indicted for enjoying gambling online – nor any debate on this by the State government.

Alabama Gambling Laws – Summary And Look To The Future

Every time a change to the laws or an exclusion from them has been attempted – the 1901 wording has prevailed. With the sole exception of dog and horse racing, gambling looks like it will remain limited in Alabama for the foreseeable future. I do not see this State regulating online poker at any point in the future.

Useful Resources:

Alabama Racing Commissions

Interesting Timeline

  • http://blog.al.com/wire/2013/02/the_history_of_gambling_in_ala.html

Statutes