Alabama Gambling Laws
Gambling in Alabama is full of contradictions and exemptions. For example, the state allows e-bingo in clear defiance of state law at the racetracks. Licensed Tribal Casinos operate in Alabama; however, traditional casino games are prohibited. Simultaneously, lawmakers push for the construction of casinos with traditional games.
Some legislators are trying to update-the-law and introduce online poker, and forms of betting online, however, Alabama’s politically-conservative-streak runs deep, including its history of restricting gambling.
Please see the table below for the ‘state-of-play’ on sports betting, gambling online etc.
|Gambling Type||Legal Land-Based||Legal Online|
Alabama Gambling Tax Rate
There is no gambling tax in the state of Alabama as casinos only exist on Native American Tribal lands.
Alabama Gambling Age
The legal age for ALL forms of gambling in Alabama is 19.
Alabama Sports Betting Legislation
The State of Alabama doesn’t have any specific laws that prohibit placing bets on sporting events, although it is illegal to be a bookmaker in Alabama. Therefore, all sports betting in Alabama must be done online.
In Alabama, having bookmaking records or gambling records is considered a Class A misdemeanor.
As a result, with Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) also having been deemed illegal in Alabama since 2016, Horse Racing and Greyhound Racing Betting are the only sports betting possibilities in the State.
Sports Betting in Alabama
Alabama, perhaps more than any Bible Belt state, has long recoiled over the notion of legalized gambling of any kind. Consequently, since May 2018, there has been plenty of doubters coming forward on whether Alabama can progress with legal sports gambling even after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 26-year-old federal ban against sports betting outside of Nevada.
Fantasy sports in Alabama is also a non-starter. The state is one of nine that prohibits DFS.
The good news is that legislative pressure has been mounting in recent years to chip away at the anti-gambling forces that have long dominated the State Government power structure.
Sports Betting Online
Sports Betting Online is currently prohibited in the Yellowhammer State of Alabama, and even DFS has been considered illegal since 2016.
Horse Racing Betting online is the only exception to the online gambling rule in Alabama.
Casinos in Alabama
Alabama shares a lot of colorful gambling history with its Mississippi neighbor. The Steam Boat Casinos with their card-sharps and other shady characters are as much a part of Alabaman gambling history as they are in Mississippi. Unlike Mississippi, however, that embraced gambling and now receives substantial revenues from its casinos – Alabama went down the conservative route, and almost all gambling games are illegal in this state.
The 1901 State constitution originally sets the conservative tone. The State’s overarching legal document 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, DFS, Blackjack etc. are all obvious ‘victims’ of the interpretation as the State.
As a result, there are only 3 Tribal Casinos in Alabama at the present time, however, State Legislators are continually debating the possibility of full casino legislation in order to raise revenue and decrease the number of Alabama residents traveling to nearby Mississippi to gamble.
Alabama Land-based Casinos
There are 3 Tribal Casinos in Alabama on Native American land only, as the state law actually prohibits casinos on state administered land. At the 3 Tribal Casinos, there are no table games at all, only slots and bingo-type games. At one point, there was an attempt to introduce electronic bingo games to the Tribal Casinos. The e-bingo games were initially permitted and then quickly withdrawn when a Supreme Court ruling judged them to be covered by the archaic 1901 definition of gambling. In the end, the e-bingo games were curiously added eventually to the state’s racetracks. Such are the mysterious contradictions that appear to make Alabama Casino Law difficult to understand to the observer.
Online Casinos in Alabama
In Alabama, there appears that there are no laws relating specifically to the legal status of online casinos, although casino gambling is banned and the assumption under State Law is that those laws are assumed to cover online gambling as well.
On a bright note for Alabama, there have so far been no recorded instances of individuals indicted for gambling online in the state. Conversely, nor has there been any debate on the topic at all by the Alabama State Legislature.
As a result, we advise all potential online casino players in Alabama to obey all laws that online casinos are illegal (until further notice).
Avoid using ANY online casinos (US-based or Offshore) within Alabama until online gambling has been determined to be legal.
With the sole exception of online betting on greyhound and horse racing, online gambling looks like it will remain a very limited option in Alabama for the foreseeable future. That future does not look promising for Alabama to adopt online gambling soon, however, the great news is that all the major online horse racing betting sites accept players from the state.
Horse Racing Betting in Alabama
Horse Racing Betting is fully legal (both online and on course/track side) for all visitors to, and residents of the state of Alabama, however, there are provisos. Horse and greyhound racing are only permitted in cities of over 300 000 people.
Wagers can be made on live races, at off-track betting facilities and over the Internet, and as a result, all of the largest and well-known horse and dog racing betting websites that operate across the United States have a presence in the state of Alabama.
Track Side: There are 3 greyhound racing facilities in Birmingham and Mobile and all 3 have live greyhound racing and simulcast greyhound and horse racing from all over the country 52 weeks a year. The Alabama tracks are considered to have some of the best in simulcast wagering opportunities for both greyhound and thoroughbred facilities across the nation. Significantly, all tracks in Alabama allow advance wagering except in multi-race wagers.
Off Track Betting (OTB): Off track betting bureaus (OTBs) are not widespread in Alabama. Full betting on Horse Racing and Simulcast racing are offered at the only 4 locations (3 of those are former tracks) across the state. Betting on races in Alabama, most major racing locations worldwide and of course, across the United States and are all available in Alabama OTB’s.
Online Betting on Horse Racing in Alabama
As the only form of permissible online betting in the state, it’s not surprising to learn that all major U.S. online horse racing betting sites all accept customers from the state of Alabama and offer real money bets on horse racing (Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown etc.) for Alabama residents and visitors to the state.
Alabama’s Daily Fantasy Sports Laws
In the Federal judiciary system, lawmakers have declared that Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) are exempt from any Federal gambling bans, as they have legally determined DFS to be contest of skill, rather than a gambling game of random chance.
Things differ with DFS laws at the State level in Alabama. In Alabama, since 2016, DFS participation has been considered to be a form of gambling, which the state bans. Legislation will be required to be passed before a return of DFS sites in the state of Alabama. As DFS is a 100% online activity, legislation may also be required to allow DFS sites in the state.
As a result, DFS sites are not legal to operate or to hold DFS contests in the state of Alabama, for its residents, or even visitors to the Yellowhammer state.
What is DFS
In its modest origins, Fantasy Sports was a fun pastime (Fantasy Sports were/are usually played amongst friends or coworkers as a social game), and some friendly social betting can be involved. Fantasy Sports usually involves a group of players (called a league), select their team/s from a group of real-life professional athletes (most Fantasy Sports sites operate, MLB, NHL, NFL & NBA competitions) to construct the highest-point scoring fantasy teams.
Each real-life athlete’s performance throughout the season is tracked in their given sport, and according to those performances, the fantasy teams are assigned points. The Fantasy Sports player whose fantasy team wins the most points throughout the season, wins the Fantasy game and usually the winner-take-all social pot.
With the advent of better and widespread internet, came along came the big money and the increased frequency of DFS competitions. DFS differs slightly to the original form of Fantasy Sports. Instead of the DFS competition’s players waiting throughout an entire season to know who won and who lost, in a DFS game, results are usually announced each day, or in some sports, each week at the outside. While the season-long Fantasy Sports are played mostly as a social game with work colleagues and friends, DFS is usually played online with thousands of other players. Each DFS player pass a few dollars to ‘buy into’ the league. Subsequently, on a nationwide level, winning DFS players stand to win as much as a million dollars or more from the player entry money prize pool for each major league.
Champion DFS players in the United States are most frequently superb ‘budget balancers’ that manage to generate the best value for money out of their chosen players. Usually, the best DFS teams include a carefully crafted collection of bargain-basement consistently-performing journeymen, rather than superstars of the sport.
Poker Laws in Alabama
First the good news – Home poker games are tolerated in Alabama, as long as they meet the state guidelines of ‘social gambling in a private place’. In Alabama State Law, the onus of proof of social gambling rests solely on the shoulders of the players in the home game.
Otherwise, charity poker, video poker, poker in casinos and/or poker games are all deemed illegal under Alabama State Law. According the interpretation of legislators in Alabama, poker is illegal ‘as it involves chance’. Even Alabama’s Tribal Casinos are not allowed to offer their clients opportunities to play poker.
Online Poker in Alabama
At this time, online poker in Alabama and video poker online are both deemed illegal and are therefore, unavailable. See section above on ‘Online Casinos in Alabama’.
eSports Betting in Alabama
With the exception of greyhound racing and horse racing in Alabama, sports betting and eSports betting is still unavailable. When sports betting becomes legal in the state, eSports betting should become a new and popular way for Alabama’s residents to win a few dollars, and the state to earn some additional revenue into the bargain. ‘What is eSports?’, I hear you ask.
At its simplest, ‘eSports’ is video game play at the highest professional level possible. Usually, eSports is played in a team format (rather than individually) in leagues and tournaments worldwide. Software game development companies of major electronic games have each launched their own pro leagues, and eSports competitions have been transformed into global betting events with the advent of live streaming technology.
High-profile eSports such as Starcraft, Fortnite, League of Legends, Overwatch, Call of Duty and others, all have their own worldwide league competitions. Developed sports betting markets across the planet offer a range of betting markets across all major eSports tournaments.
Watch for sports betting to be legalized in Alabama, to take part in legal eSports betting in the state.
History of Gambling in Alabama
1901 – The Constitution of Alabama declares gambling a punishable crime.
1971 – Horse and Greyhound racing betting legalized in Alabama.
1980 – Race courses open in Alabama.
1988 – The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is passed, leading to the establishment of Alabama’s 3 Tribal Casinos.
2015 – A legal bid to allow a state lottery and four casinos failed to pass the State Legislature.
2016 – DFS betting was deemed to be illegal in Alabama.