Alabama is a state which is notoriously opposed to gambling of all forms. With the PAPSA repeal in May 2018, you may be wondering if it is now easier to gamble legally in Alabama.
In this guide, we’ll discuss current and upcoming laws which regulate sports betting in Alabama, and let you know what your options are for wagering on sports online and offline in the state.
Top 3 Online Sportsbooks in Alabama
Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Alabama?
In short, no, there is currently no online sports betting in Alabama, apart from horse racing and daily fantasy sports. Although lawmakers made an attempt to propose a new bill in favor of sports betting, the timing could not have been worse. In light of the global pandemic, the bill was immediately dismissed until lawmakers choose to push for it in the future.
For many people who have been patiently waiting for the day sports betting will finally become legal, the news came as a big blow. When horse racing and daily fantasy sports just are not enough to satisfy gamblers in the state, many choose to participate in offshore online sports betting sites instead.
Alabama Sports Betting Law
Before we get into existing laws as well as bills that are on the table, let’s give a little background on Alabama and issues of gambling.
AL is a state which has a long history of deeply opposing gambling in any form. So, that gives you an idea of the kinds of deeply-entrenched negative beliefs regarding gambling that the industry has been up against.
In fact, it wasn’t until April 2019 that the Alabama Senate finally passed a bill that would let voters decide in 2020 whether they would like a state lottery. While lawmakers have been slow to jump on a sports betting bill, the popularity of offshore online sports betting sites continue to grow.
Nevertheless, forward motion has been made just this year with daily fantasy sports, and there is a bill under consideration right now which could make sports betting in AL fully legal.
Advantages of Online Sports Betting
There are many advantages to betting online that Alabama bettors can take advantage of. They include:
Convenience – The speed of placing a bet means that you can snap up great odds quickly. Physical sports books take time to place a bet that involves travelling to the betting window, lining up to place a bet, and then processing the bet. Online is so quick and fast, that you will not go cursing that you missed a good betting opportunity because of logistical set backs. Hence the convenience factor is one of the greatest benefits. Why travel, line up and wait, when you can do it all from your home.
Variety – The biggest attraction to offshore online sports betting sites is the vast number of options available to players. For the sites that solely focus on sports, they will often include a huge collection of different types of sports and teams from all over the world. Not only do the sites offer great options for bets, but also challenges for players who are unfamiliar with certain sports.
In Game Betting – The internet is so sophisticated that sports books are now able to offer odds quickly and distribute them on scale to sports bettors. No longer are the days of using a calculating (or even a simple Excel worksheet). Now everything is automated, and sports bettors can enjoy odds during In Game / Mid Game. If you want to bet on which team wins the next quarter you can, if you want to bet on who scores the next touch down, you can. The speed of data processing in today’s world allows for In Game wagers via online sports betting.
Innumerable Betting Options – you will find that there are hundreds of betting options on the internet. Logistically this would be impossible at a physical sports book. Firstly, no board would be big enough, and having sports bettor scanning their eyes through a massive board would not work. Only via the internet can sports bettors search for their favorite bets quickly and easily.
Better Odds – Arguably will be able to get better odds via online. You will be able to see them realtime, and bet on them in realtime. If the odds swing, again, you can react fast when it is online. Obviously the disadvantage of not placing a sports wager online, is the missed opportunity of great odds, that will swing against you when others have already placed bets on it.
Special Rewards – Unlike brick and mortar sportsbooks, online sports betting sites reward site members with a range of promotions and bonuses just for being loyal members. Most sites will have a welcome no-deposit bonus, which is essentially free money for new members to give them a risk-free option to test the sportsbook site. Other rewards could include deposit bonuses, referral bonuses, and occasional promotions for tournaments or high-profile games.
It is Legal to Bet on Horse and Greyhound Races in Alabama
Two areas where there have been exceptions in AL’s strict legal code concerning gambling for some time now are horse racing and greyhound racing.
There are actually four existing horse racing tracks located in AL. These tracks are not in use, however. The Birmingham Race Course did attempt to get horse races going again in 2011, but the track remains idle since 1995.
Even with the race tracks neglected, pari-mutuel simulcast betting on horse racing at these tracks is permitted.
You can view the Alabama Department of Revenue’s Pari-mutuel Pools Tax Schedule right here, which also applies to dog racing (see below).
Also, read the legal code surrounding licensing for pari-mutuel betting on horses and greyhounds in AL, and check out Title 40 Chapter 26A, Title 11, Subtitle 2, Chapter 65, and Title 40 Chapter 2A, all of which govern pari-mutuel betting.
You might also be interested in this article from October 2019 which discusses games introduced by the Birmingham Race Course which “allow users to place wagers on horse races that have already taken place.”
The Birmingham Race Course offers simulcast horse racing wagering, as does Greenetrack, VictoryLand and Mobile Greyhound Park.
If you do not want to visit a track to place pari-mutuel bets on horse racing, you can make off-track wagers online.
Unlike horse racing, greyhound racing is a sport which Alabama has not entirely abandoned.
The Birmingham Race Course features greyhound racing throughout the year, five days a week.
Greyhound races also continue to run at the Mobile Greyhound Park four days a week. The races are seasonal, but the simulcast services are year-round.
You can also enjoy simulcast greyhound wagering at the other aforementioned tracks as well.
How much longer will greyhound racing last in the state? At the moment, there aren’t any looming concerns that it will go away anytime soon.
But across the US, the majority of states have banned dog racing, and eventually, chances are good that AL will follow suit.
Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily Fantasy Sports was Legalized in May 2019 With HB 361
Alabamans love daily fantasy sports, and many state residents illicitly participated in them when they were illegal in the state.
But with the recent passage of HB 361, fantasy sports betting is now legal so long as one is going through a website which has registered with the state and which is operating within the parameters of state law.
Interestingly enough, this is not the first time that Alabama residents have been able to legally play daily fantasy sports.
They were actually legal before 2016 as well.
But when Attorney General Luther Strange stated that year that they were illegal (directly contradicting an earlier decision by the Alabama Supreme Court), websites like FanDuel and DraftKings had to exit the Alabama market.
But with Governor Kay Ivey’s signature on HB 361, websites like these were welcomed back to Alabama, and AL residents today can once again play fantasy sports.
Alabama HB315: The Bill That Would Fully Legalize Sports Betting in AL
The relevant bill to be tracking right now with regard to sports betting in Alabama is Alabama HB315, the status of which you can view here.
You can read the full text of the bill on that page. Introduced in April 2019, it would, if passed, create a regulatory agency called the Alabama Sports Wagering Commission.
Sportsbooks would finally be able to operate legally within state borders after applying for a license and receiving approval from the commission.
Until that bill is passed, there is no way to bet at local sportsbooks legally in Alabama.
Online gambling in Alabama remains in a gray area if you go through offshore sites.
While many offshore sports betting sites still do not accept customers from the USA, there are a few trusted sites which do.
Where to Bet on Sports in Alabama Offline
The pari-mutuel betting opportunities which we discussed before for horse racing and greyhound racing are the only offline betting options currently available in AL.
Here are the locations where you can bet:
Birmingham Race Course
1000 John Rogers Drive
Birmingham, AL 35235
Mobile Greyhound Park
7101 Old Pascagoula Road
Theodore Al 36582
8680 Co. Road 40
Shorter, AL 36075
524 Co. Road 208
Eatuw AL 35462
Hopefully, when HB315 passes, there will be more local betting options available throughout the state.
How to Choose an Online Sports Betting Site
Anyone new to online sports betting will quickly realize there are thousands of options available at any given moment. So that players in the US find the best sportsbook site, there are a few things that should be considered before registering to a site:
Anyone wanting to find a sports betting site should keep in mind that not all sites will accept players from the US. Most online offshore sportsbooks will have country restrictions listed in their terms and conditions or the help pages. Players can find out by doing a quick search on the site or contacting customer support for more information.
Everyone will have a preference for the sports and teams they like to place wagers on, so it makes sense to check if a potential online sports betting site offers them. This is often very easy to look up as most sites are designed with specific sports listings along with the game lineups to come.
Common Sports in Offshore Betting Sites
- Martial Arts (incl. UFC)
- Formula 1
From there, plenty of sites will branch out and offer a wider range of more obscure sports like Table Tennis, Darts, Races (horse, greyhounds), Gaelic football, Aussie rules, billiards, and even some non-sporting events like awards shows.
As with any site online, there will be some that are basic in design and offerings, while others will have seemingly endless options available to players. Apart from the most common wagers like moneyline, point spread, handicap, parlay, over-under, and teasers, there are dozens of wager variations that can be made. This is just another attractive feature that has so many people switching to online sports betting sites.
Depending on the types of bets and challenges a player is looking for, it pays to take a quick look at the site to see what is available.
As with anything online, there is always a nagging worry about the security of money transfers for deposits and withdrawals from an online sportsbook. Most online offshore sites will offer a range of convenient payment options so that players from all over the world can quickly and easily transfer funds whenever they like.
Sticking to trustworthy banking options will give the speed and peace of mind needed, so there is more time available for checking out upcoming games and stats. Most sports betting sites will list the banking options they accept along with transfer times for each option.
Common payments include major credit cards, wire transfers, prepaid cards, and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Often overlooked until needed, the customer support on a site is another important feature that potential site members should check out. No one ever thinks they will need customer support, after all, sports betting is pretty straightforward, but there may be a time when the support team will be needed.
No matter what a member needs help with, the support team is meant to be the first point of contact for help and information. Most sites will have a comprehensive help section filled with site information and betting tutorials for anyone new to sports betting.
What everyone should look out for is the options for contacting customer support (online chat, online form, email, phone number), and the times it is available. The top sites will often have 24-hour contact, while other sites might have specific service times each day. Also, players should keep in mind that response times will also vary according to quiet and peak site access times.
You have now had a chance to read in-depth about the Alabama state government’s position on horse and greyhound racing, fantasy sports, and online and offline betting.
While AL historically has opposed gambling, the government’s attitude toward it is gradually relaxing.
Hopefully, HB315 will pass, and online gambling can move out of its current gray area and into a fully legal realm along with local betting shops.
But until then, gambling online in AL appears to involve little legal risk, and pari-mutuel betting at the tracks remains a legal option.