Alabama legislator predicts sports betting bill will be considered in 2019
Sports betting is legal in just a handful of states, but as of last week, Alabama’s eastern neighbor has joined that select club. Mississippi’s first lawful sports wagers took place Wednesday at the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi.
State Rep. Paul Lee (R-Dothan) is predicting that the state legislature will consider a bill during the 2019 legislative session calling for a referendum on sports betting, though he predicts passage is a long shot according to WTVY in Dothan.
Until this summer, Nevada was the sole state to offer single game sports betting. A recent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for wagering in all states that choose to participate.
In Alabama, there are plenty of detractors to gambling that make passage any time soon seem very unlikely.
Rep. Lee, for example, “thinks Alabama needs to be pushing industrial recruitment, supporting small business, and creating high-paying jobs instead of looking at gambling to solve financial woes,” WTVY reports.
Then there is Rep. Rich Wingo (R-Tuscaloosa), who played five seasons for the Green Bay Packers and knows the dangers of mixing sports and gambling first-hand. Wingo told WBRC that the FBI would show up every year at team meetings to talk about sports gambling and how gamblers will try and get involved with players to affect the outcome of a game.
“College sports are going to eventually be compromised and people are going to wonder if that kid missed that field goal on purpose or dropped that catch on purpose,” Wingo warned.
Yet, one Alabama statewide elected official has come out in favor of this form of gambling.
“Alabama is the number one state in the nation in illegal football betting,” State Auditor Jim Zeigler claimed to WTVY.
The Dothan television station added that Zeigler “supports legalizing sports gambling. He predicts it would produce much-needed revenue for the state.”
Time will tell whether other states provide a prudent model for legalizing sports betting in Alabama.
“Lee, like lots of other state lawmakers, believes it’s still too early in the game,” WTVY reported. “He wants to watch what happens in Mississippi, where there’s been casinos for nearly thirty years.”
“I can’t see where the gambling part, at this point, has made a drastic difference in the change of Mississippi,” Lee explained.
In Alabama, only gambling on greyhound and horse racing is legal. Gambling involving other sports would need to pass a referendum of the people.
You can watch WTVY’s entire report here.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn