Alabama Online Gambling

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The Current State of Gambling Legislation in Alabama

Alabama has some of the strictest laws in the nation when it comes to gambling. The state presently has no commercial gambling, but casino gambling is currently available under federal legislation in three casinos run by Indian tribes. These casinos are not your typical casinos, as only a select few games of chance are offered, namely, slot machines and bingo. Also, Alabamans are legally permitted to wager at greyhound dog racing tracks.

A recent proposal authored by Rep. Allen Farley (R-McCalla), House Bill 414[1], would increase certain gambling offenses from a misdemeanor to a Class C felony, and would allow authorities to seize the property where illegal gambling is taking place. Farley is concerned that many illegal gambling houses offering slot machines and other forms of gambling throughout the state are raking in thousands of dollars daily from Alabama residents.

“It won’t take long for a group of machines to pay for itself,” Farley said. “The operators come in from out of state, offer an owner to upgrade their property and split the profits. A building with 100 machines can bring in $3 million in one month.”[2]

Alabama’s specific gambling law is worded in a way that does not penalize the actual gamblers taking part in illegal action. The law is heavily tilted toward finding offense with those who are operating or running illegal games of chance. The law partially defines illegal gambling as “conduct directed toward the creation or establishment of the particular game, contest, scheme, device or activity involved, toward the acquisition or maintenance of premises…”[3]

No Clear Stance on Online Gambling

One thing Alabama legislators seemingly haven’t done is make a clear decision on whether it’s legal for Alabama residents to place their bets via the Internet. According to numerous sources, Alabamans can gamble freely online, but setting up their own online gambling site would cross the line. The state has tried to restrict online gambling several times in the past, however, none of the bills were ever passed, meaning online gambling still remains a grey area in the state. Right now it’s widely accepted that Alabama residents can play poker, casino games or bet on sports online without fear of any repercussions.

Tribal Casinos

In August 1984 the United States government officially recognized the Poarch Band of Creek Indians as a sovereign nation, which allows the tribe to operate under its own laws. This also allows them to operate three casinos in the state of Alabama. “The tribe owns three gaming properties in Alabama; Wind Creek Casino & Hotel, Tallapoosa Casino in Montgomery, and Riverside Casino in Wetumpka. These three properties operate over 3,000 Class II electronic bingo games 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”[4]

windcreek casino alabama
Windcreek Casino in Alabama

Gambling in the Past — The History of Gambling in Alabama

As with most of the Confederate States, Alabama legalized some forms of gambling after the Civil War as a way to generate income to support state needs. Alabama, along with Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana, established lotteries. The lotteries worked well for a period of time, but Louisiana’s lottery became such a Southern political beast that in 1878, Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia outlawed the sale of Louisiana State lottery tickets within their respective borders. After that, Alabama’s view of lotteries, and gambling in general, took a downward turn and federal anti-gambling legislation ultimately took over until the 1930s.

Part of Alabama’s past includes the tragic events in Phenix City in the 1950s. Alabama legislators who weren’t around in the 1950s have probably heard stories from their ancestors of Phenix City becoming a hotbed for gambling, and with it, organized crime and corruption. In 1954, it became deadly. Albert Patterson had won his election bid for attorney general and hoped to rid the border town of the crime and corruption that engulfed the city, but he was shot and killed before he ever took office. Patterson’s son, John, took his murdered father’s attorney general seat. After the elder Patterson’s assassination, martial law was declared on Phenix City and the cleanup commenced. John Patterson later became governor.[5]

Recent Proposed Legislation Getting Tough On Gambling, Not Regulating Internet Gambling

While many states are considering online gambling legislation as a way to increase revenue, Alabama is taking a step in the other direction with Rep. Farley’s proposal to get tough on illegal gambling operators by making certain crimes felonies instead of misdemeanors. Although Alabama lawmakers certainly won’t go as far as Utah did by completely banning gambling throughout the state, they also don’t appear to be in any hurry to join the states hoping to cash in on the recent ruling by the U.S. Department of Justice that has several states looking to approve online gambling regulations.


[1] House Bill 414 looks to increase illegal gambling to a class C felony
[2] Rep. Allan Farley speaks out on illegal gambling houses – North Jefferson News report
[3] Alabama’s state laws as they pertain to gambling
[4] Tribal Casinos in Alabama – Windcreek Casinos
[5] Albert Patterson Bio by