Alabama Lawmakers Discuss Sports Gambling Legalization

Alabama lawmakers discuss a House Bill to legalize sports betting in the state while locals express their mixed emotions.

This is not the first time a bill like that causes discussion in the lines of the state’s lawmakers but this might be the first time it passes through the Legislature.

If players want to bet on their favorite Alabama sports teams, they need to travel to Tennessee or Mississippi, however Rep. John Rogers of Birmingham introduced House Bill 161 that, if approved, will allow betting on both collegiate and professional sporting events, as well as other authorized competitions in the state.

Many states are looking to legalize sports betting that is currently only allowed in 20 states, including Washington D.C. and Tennessee where the sports gambling legalization effort kicked off in 2018.

Rep. Rick Staples is responsible for the introduction of the bill, that contains provisions for the regulation and taxation of the local wagering market.

The decision was up to state’s communities, that were able to decide whether they wanted sports betting to be legalized in their respective regions via local elections.

In the first month of Tennessee’s legal wagering, more than $2 million of tax revenue was generated by the state.

Mixed Emotions

However, in Alabama the potential legalization of the gambling practice causes mixed emotions.

According to Jessica German, who supports legal sports betting, Alabama can too benefit from additional good revenue. She added: “Other states are seeing a lot of benefits from it. There’s not a right or wrong answer to it so I believe that money could be earmarked for education, health programs, or even road constructions”.

Meanwhile Matthew Jason Sherrod believes that the financial benefits are very important for the local economy but he also thinks that sports betting will mess up the integrity of sports.

He added: “If they took the profits and did something good with it that would help the next generations, then it would be ok. But the only problem that I feel with it, is that it corrupts the game. Once you have all these people once the odds getting going, this, that, and the other, games have been manipulated ruining the sport that Americans love to watch”.

While legal sports betting is still discussed in Alabama, a Georgia bill recently cleared first major hurdle. Last week, a state House committee approved the legislation.

The new bill is expected to give the Georgia Lottery Corporation oversight powers for six or more vendors. There is also no need for voters to approve a new Constitutional Amendment since the measure looks to sports betting to the existing lottery system.

Source: “House Bill proposes legalizing sports betting in AL; locals have mixed emotions”, Waff 48, February 6, 2021

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