Gambling in Alabama
On December 14th, 1819 Alabama became a part of the 50 states. Overall, the state spans more than 52,000 square miles. The state bird is the Yellowhammer and it is the 22nd state. In terms of population, the state is ranked the 23rd largest, just under 5 million people.
Alabama is synonymous of the south and the southern traditions but has more large cities than casinos, so you will have to travel in order to reach one of the land-based casinos here.
Gambling History and Scenario
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that legal gambling in Alabama started with pari-mutuel wagering. Both dog and horse racing were legalized in 1971, and the first track opened in the state in 1973. These tracks don’t have the same prestige as others in the country though, precisely because they share their space with greyhound racing.
In 1980 Bingo was legalized in Jefferson. A constitutional amendment made this possible for the county, but the remaining 18 counties of the state still didn’t offer bingo, as 18 individual amendments for each state would still be necessary.
Electronic bingo was approved in 2003, but this decision has been reversed a few times. Again, a constitutional amendment was approved, this time in Macon County, to bring machines to the racetrack at Victoryland.
This generated a strange cycle of events where the state was confiscating the machines and the cash generated by it, as well as closing the facility, just for some time later the racetrack to reopen with new machines.
This happened a couple of times and it’s a very recent situation, as just from September 2016 it’s again possible to play electronic bingo at Victoryland, even if a next raid and eventual shutdown can happen again.
The states opposing to gamble, like Alabama, often enough offer the lottery to their citizens, but this doesn’t happen here. Even if a campaign to make it legal has been going on since 1993, namely with the Don Siegelman race for governor in 1998, the lottery is still declared illegal by the state constitution.
In 1988 the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was approved, allowing tribes to operate casinos on their lands. Alabama has one single tribe doing it, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, and they have three casinos offering Class II games, which means that notable games are offered.
Alabama state sued the tribe to close down the casinos in 2013, but in 2015 the appeal was denied and the casinos continue up-and-running. Currently, we have three casinos from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (Wind Creek Casino and Hotel Atmore, Wetumpka and Montgomery, as well as the Victoryland venue.
As an alternative to this limited gaming offer, Alabama residents have Mississippi and they’re over 30 casinos at a reachable distance, namely in Biloxi and Tunica, and especially for the southern residents of the state.
Summing up Types of Gambling Found in Alabama
Alabama has several different kinds of gaming available. When 1999 rolled around, video poker was introduced to players here with a fun twist on the traditional poker styles. With video poker, you don’t need to have other players join in, it’s just you and the electronic casino game.
Players in Alabama will also see Bingo, Slots, Craps, Roulette, Blackjack and more. There is a difference between Alabama and other states, you will need to be at least 19 or over which is somewhat a rare age in terms of gaming.
The state doesn’t tax the Native American casinos which is another perk to playing within this state. Pari-mutuel betting is making bets on horse racing tracks or greyhound tracks, here you have greyhound racing found throughout the state. The three casinos located within this state are Wetumpka, Montgomery and Atmore.
The online gambling situation is similar to most states in the country, there are not laws against it or approving it. In a state where not even the lottery is legal, we can imagine how distant the situation of making online gambling is though.
On the other hand, a Fantasy Sports bill could be turned law in a near future, HB354, just going to the state senate. The ongoing debate is about if the game can be considered a skill game, and if this is proven it cannot be seen as gambling under the Alabama law, which could open the door to poker too.