BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Gambling is a topic of much debate in Alabama, and the conversation is starting to swirl again as college football kicks off.
While some forms of gambling are already legal in the state, like betting on horse racing, not all forms are — like the majority of sports betting.
Many in Birmingham support legalizing sports betting in the state. Some say it should be taxed to bring in more money and help improve things like roads.
“I find like the people there, they’re really interested and would really like something like that,” says Melvin Williams, Birmingham resident.
Certain gambling, like sports betting, is considered a misdemeanor in Alabama so people looking to put money on their favorite teams have to find other avenues for it.
“I have a friend who actually does a lot of sports betting in a different state, but I’m pretty sure the terms and everything are a lot different there,” says Samone Lewis, Birmingham resident. “I think it’s a different opportunity.”
State Senator Greg Albritton knows some people travel to Mississippi or Tennessee for sports betting but isn’t sure how much money the state loses on it. However, Albritton says with a comprehensive plan some lawmakers want to implement, the state could see up to one billion dollars in revenue.
“A comprehensive plan that will take in all forms of betting and gaming, gambling of all sorts throughout the state that would control it, regulate it, cap it, tax the devil out of it,” says Albritton.
However, not everyone sees legalizing gambling as a good thing for the state. Greg Davis, president of the Alabama Citizens Action Program, says while legalizing gambling could bring money into the state so could other attractions like amusement parks.
“If something is illegal, it makes people think ‘Why is this illegal? There must be a reason this is illegal’, where if you remove that a lot more people are going to participate. Sports betting has become very predatory,” says Davis. “This isn’t just your grandfathers betting on the line one Saturday to the next, what you see on the television now is very predatory.”
Albritton says new gambling laws have been stopped in the House of Representatives in the past but he thinks there could be enough votes to pass it through should a bill make it to the floor.