Alabama Gambling Bill Dies Without Vote as Senate Ends Session on Monday

Alabama State Seal With a Casino Background
Alabama lawmakers ended their 2021 legislative session on Monday without making a vote on the Alabama gambling bill.

The session winded down on Monday without the House voting on the Senate-passed lottery and casino bill. House Leaders led by House Speaker Mac McCutcheon did not bring up the Alabama gambling bill for discussion during a busy final legislative day after negotiations fell apart in previous weeks.

Bills passed included the budgets, a bill to allow medical marijuana, and a bill that allows wine to be shipped at your home. The Alabama gambling bill was the only bill the lawmakers could not agree upon.

Said bill sponsor Sen. Jim McClendon:

“I’m quite disappointed. It was a lot of work, but so much for that this session,”

Trying a New Approach

Alabamians have not had the chance to vote on a lottery since rejecting the 1999 Education Lottery of then Gov. Don Siegelman. Lawmakers propose a lottery bill year after year but for two decades, the efforts failed amid turf wars and battles involving casino gambling.

This year, the proponents tried a new approach that was backed by Gov. Kaye Ivey. Aside from The Lottery, the proposed Alabama gambling bill called for nine casinos, sports betting, and state-wide regulation of gambling for the first time.

Could Not Find a Common Ground

The Republican sponsored Alabama gambling bill passed the Senate on April 13th. It needed the support of the minority Democratic caucus to have the chance to get to the required three-fifths vote. It was on the House Calendar for May 6th, the 29th day of the 30-day session. But Republicans and Democrats could not find enough common ground despite hours of heavy negotiations.

Democrats said no the the plan of shutting down electronic bingo facilities in Greene and Lowndes counties and demanded a clearer language that would include jobs and business participation for blacks. Meanwhile, Republicans resisted the idea of using casino revenues to expand Medicaid.

Alabama Gambling Bill Headed to the Senate This Week

Alabama State Seal With a Casino Background

Reublican Senator Del Marsh revealed on Monday that the Alabama Senate will be debating on the Alabama gambling bill soon. Marsh says that he expects his bill to be taken up by the Alabama senate on Tuesday. He claims to have the necessary votes needed to pass the legislation out of the Senate. If it passes the senate, it will be sent to the House for more consideration.

Proposal for Five Casino Sites

The latest version of the Alabama gamlbling bill provides for the establishment of a State Lottery and five casinos-one at each of the four existing dog parks and a fifth site that will be run by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. It will also authorize an agreement with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians for the operation of casino games at their three properties that currently offer electronic bingo games.

Small site operators in Houston and Lowndes county have asked to be included but according to Sen. Marsh, Governor Kay Ivey was “very clear” that she didn’t want too many casino sites in the state. Because of that, the bill will limit casino operators to just five, at least for now.

Lawsuit Filed Against Marsh

Marsh’s announcement was somewhat clouded when a case was filed against him on Monday. The lawsuit, filed by Age With Dignity, Inc., OIC Dream Greene County and Dream County, INC alleges that Marsh received bribes from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians related to his push for gambling in the state. Both Marsh and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians have denied the accusations, with the latter issuing a statement calling the lawsuit “nonsense”.

The lawsuit also claims that Senate Bill 214 creates an “illegal monopoly”, claiming that some local local economies in some communities in Alabama would be missing out on thousands of dollars with the bill limiting casino operations to five sites plus the three existing tribal properties.

Tennessee Lottery Approves Two More Sports Betting Operators

Two Laptops Showing Sports in Front of a Pile of Money
The online-only Tennessee sports betting industry just got bigger last week with the addition of two more online gambling operators.

In an announcement made last Friday, the Tennessee Lottery’s Sports Wagering Committee has approved licenses for two more Tennessee sports betting online operators, bringing the total number of online sports betting options in the Volunteer state to seven.

Lottery CEO Rebecca Hargrove revealed that Willian Hill and Wynn Sports have been granted permission by the Commission to commence Tennessee sports betting activities. However, Hargrove added that the two new players and Churchill Downs won’t have their sportsbooks live when the NFL plays it championship game next weekend at Super Bowl LV. DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Tennessee Action 24/7 are the four sportsbooks ready to accept Super Bowl bets in the Volunteer State.

Affected by Christmas Day Explosion

A reason why one of the new Tennessee sports betting company won’t be able to go live on February 7th is the fact that its server was affected by the Christmas Day explosion in Nashville. The blast injured a dozen people and saw several buildings damaged. While the operator was not identified, the issue with its Nashville server isn’t expected to be resolved in time for SuperBowl Sunday.

Meanwhile, Churchill Downs received approval in early January. It will operate under a BetAmerica sportsbook that is being rebranded as TwinSpires but the company has not set a launch date. WynnBET Tennessee has likewise not announced when it will go live while William Hill is expected to commence operations next month.

$180M December Handle

Tennessee passed the United States’ first online-only legal sports betting law in 2019 with Republican Governor Bill Lee allowing the bill to pass without his signature. The law took effect that summer with the Lottery tasked to administer Tennessee sports betting. Online sports betting began last November for people 21 and over who are physically in the boundaries of the Volunteer state.

Last Tuesday, the Tennessee Lottery reported a December 2020 betting handle of $180.9M which represented a 37.7% increase from the state’s $131.4M haul in its debut month last November. Gross payouts in December were recorded at $167M which was a significant 41% increase from the previous month’s $118.2M. The state received a privilege tax of $3.1M for December 2020, a 29.2% increase from November’s $2.4M figures.

New Kansas Sports Betting Bill Introduced in State Senate

Sportsbook
A new Kansas sports betting bill was introduced in the Senate last Tuesday.

The new bill, SB 84, resembles last year’s offering – SB 283, which the senate passed 23-15 but never got a hearing in the house.

Like last year’s proposal, the Kansas Lottery would be key regulator for Kansas sports betting. Similarly, the state would impose a 7.5% tax for in-person sports bets and 10% for online wagers. Bettors would be at least 21 years old and must be physically present within the state lines. Betting on all collegiate and professional sports is permitted and it does not require the use of official league data nor does it mention any kind of payment to the professional leagues.

Up to 12 Legal Online Sports Betting Options

The proposal will also allow the state’s four commercial casinos to open a retail sportsbook at their properties and have up to three online skins ( providers), meaning the state could have up to a dozen legal online sports betting operators.

Kansas’ native American gaming tribes are also allowed to renegotiate their government deals to include Kansas sports betting as well. The bill would also allow the Kansas Lottery to have some skin in the game by contracting with an existing gaming facility manager for sports betting.

The Kansas Speedway in Kansas City will be permitted to open an area for online sports betting but would not be allowed to accept in-person wagers. That’s because adjacent to the track is the Hollywood Casino which, under the bill, can accept in-person bets.

A Process to be Followed

Like in every other state which offers legal sports betting, there is a process to be followed. Officials would have to come up with and finalize rules before Kansas sports betting commences. The Law requires the regulators to complete the process on or before October 31, 2021.

The Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs, which introduced the bill, currently has jurisdiction over the bill. It isn’t scheduled to discuss SB 84 this week but is expected to tackle it as early as next month.

Should the bill pass the initial committee, it will have to go through several committees before a vote before the Senate. If it is approved by the Senate, the House would have to agree on a similar version before it will be sent to Gov. Laura Kelly for her signature.

Montana Sports Betting Gains Momentum From Start of NFL Season

Montana Casinos
Montana sports betting arrived at the wrong time. Sports Bet Montana launched on March 9th but barely six days later, bars and casinos in Montana were ordered closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The shutdown effectively put legal sports betting in Montana at a standstill.

But since sports has returned, the figures have slowly improved and as of September 16th, Sports Bet Montana has taken a total of $5M in bets this year, not bad considering the three months where there was literally no sports betting action in the state.

Montana Sports Betting Took Off With the NFL

When sports resumed in May, there were few events to bet on. Events like Korean baseball and the UFC were the first to come back and both didn’t appeal to Montanans and they did very little to perk up real money sports betting in Montana.

The return of Major League Baseball in July started a good streak for Montana sports betting. But after the NFL’s 2020 season opened earlier this month, legal sports betting in Montana took off.

A total of $189,000 was wagered on the NFL in Montana during opening week. For the week of September 7-13, 52% of the total sports wagers in Big Sky County was made on the NFL. Last Monday, a total of $36,629 was wagered in the game between the Denver Broncos vs Tennessee Titans.

Looking at $500K in Total Bets Per Week

Lottery officials predict that if the current momentum of Montana sports betting continues, the state can generate a weekly total bet amount of $500K. Officials are looking at expanding their retail base and the number of places where people can place bets in order to achieve this lofty target. But with the NFL season going full steam ahead, the target is very achievable.

The sportsbook for Sports Bet Montana is managed by Intralot which is a Greek integrated gambling, transaction processing system, and sports betting company. Intralot receives a percentage of the total amounts bet via Sports Bet Montana.

All of the money made by Sports Bet Montana came from wagers placed within the state. The state takes 12% of the total betting handle and gives 6% of that back to the businesses where the wagers were made.The other 6% goes to the State of Montana STEM scholarships. According to Montana Lottery, a total fo $364,000 has been returned to businesses offering legal sports betting in Montana. Similarly, the same amount has gone to scholarships.

Virgnia’s “Sports Bettor Bill of Rights” Draws Flak From Major Operators

Virginia Sign

The public comment period on the proposed rules and regulations of sports betting in Virginia ended last Wednesday and some of the initial policies have received opposition from major gambling operators.

During the review process, major platforms like DraftKings and FanDuel have taken issue with some of the consumer protection rules that officials are proposing. One particular regulation that has received negative feedback is the one that requires the betting platforms to provide players with information that can help them make “informed decisions about their gambling”. These information include how the odds were calculated, odds of winning a bet, and the handle and payout amounts.

Other Issues That Drew Negative Reactions

According to the gambling operators, no other sports betting state in the United States has imposed a similar requirement. FanDuel in particular, noted that it recently offered 24 different bets on an NBA playoff game and that had nearly 300 potential outcomes and even more possible parlay wagers. Presenting the required information under Virginia’s proposed Sports Bettors Bill of Rights in real time will cause logistical problems on both processing power and screen space.

Other issues that drew negative reactions include the process of allowing players voluntarily ban themselves from sports betting for two years, five years, or for life if they feel they are losing too much money or if they feel they are getting addicted to gambling. The regulations also requires gambling operators to submit all marketing and advertising materials to the Lottery for pre-approval. The advertising rules also prohibit them from targeting minors and ads that violate “good taste” are disallowed.

Additionally, there is a proposed rule that bans betting on the Olympics, something which was not included in the legislation of the General Assembly. For this issue, the operators argued that excluding some sports evets would defeat the purpose of the legislation. Several companies also requested for a more lenient advertising policy where they won’t need a formal sign-off in advance.

Laying The Foundation of Virginia Sports Betting

The public review is being conducted by the Lottery to lay the foundation of the sports betting rules in Virginia. The outcome of the review will determine how quickly or not sports betting will launch in the state and what the bettors expect to see in the betting apps when they are officially launched. If all goes well, sports betting is expected to start next year in Virginia.

This year, the General Assembly passed a legislation authorizing the Virginia Lottery to hand out between four to 12 sports betting licenses in the state. Sports betting in Virginia will start online, largely via sports betting apps. However, it could eventually expand to the brick and mortar casinos being planned in different cities and the Colonial Downs operated Rosie’s gambling places.

The Virginia Lottery Board is expected to meet on Tuesday to vote on the new rules on sports betting. Once the rules and regulations are in place, the Lottery will begin accepting applications for sports betting licenses next month. Sports betting is expected to bring in an annual $55M in state tax revenues.