Undated (WTVY)-- Mississippi is the fourth state to offer legalized sports betting and other states will soon follow but Alabama likely won't be one of them.
State Representative Paul Lee (R-Dothan) believes a bill will be considered in the 2019 legislative session calling for a referendum on sports betting though he predicts passage is a long shot.
“I haven't heard any specifics but it wouldn't surprise me to see that type of legislation,” Lee told WTVY.
Until recently, only Nevada offered single game sports betting. However, a recent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for wagering in all states that choose to get in the game.
Anticipating the ruling, several states were ready and sports betting is currently legal in Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, and Nevada.
Other states have enacted sports betting legislation though betting on games is not yet available.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, the Democratic nominee for governor, supports sports betting and other gambling. “We should immediately begin consideration of legalized sports gambling so there's not another moment in the future when we look back with regret over not moving quickly enough,” his campaign said in a statement to al.com.
Alabama still doesn't have a lottery and hasn't voted on one since 1999. The only casinos in the state are operated by an Indian tribe that pays no state taxes. Four greyhound tracks are now ghost towns compared to their heyday.
Revenue from sports betting could provide much needed revenue for Alabama and other states. Some estimates are that $400 billion is wagered on football and other games in the U.S. each year with over 95% bet illegally.
Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler believes more illegal football bets are made in Alabama than any other state and supports legalizing sports gambling. He predicts it would produce much needed revenue for the state.
Lee, though, 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.
He's far more excited about an internet sales tax that will be collected, beginning October 1, than he is about sports betting. Estimates are it internet tax generate up to $40 million annually for state and local governments in the state.