Alabama Casinos and Gambling

Short Summary: There are only a few forms of legalized and regulated gaming in the State of Alabama, which include pari-mutuel live greyhound and horse racing as well as simulcast, Tribal Gaming (which technically doesn’t occur in the state) and charitable bingo. On this page, we look at these forms of gaming and present what types of online gaming are also available in the state.

The Yellowhammer State specifically legalizes and regulates the following forms of gambling:

  • Charitable
  • Pari-Mutuel
  • Tribal

As with other states, Tribal Gaming is regulated partially by a compact with the YellowHammer State and the Tribes themselves may otherwise regulate their own casinos provided they do it in accordance with the provisions of the compact. In the case of Alabama, this compact allows for the Tribal Casinos to engage in Class II Gambling, which is Electronic Bingo.

The way, “Electronic Bingo,” works is that the machine payouts are funded by a pool. The machines look and sometimes play (with notable exception to Video Poker) like, “Normal,” slot machines, but the result of each spin is selected from a pool of possible results. It is not predetermined, per se, but at the same time, it is not completely random.

The Tribal Casinos can also operate Class III machines if they want to, though same have not been specifically authorized by Alabama. In fact, Alabama filed suit against the Poarch Band for the operation of Class III machines, but the lawsuit was thrown out on the grounds that Alabama had no authority to regulate the Tribal Gaming.

When you combine this fact with the fact that Alabama is a strongly Conservative state AND has no licensed and regulated casinos of its own, one can conclude that they would rather not have these Tribal casinos, but there is nothing they can do about them because they have no jurisdiction on Tribal land.

Alabama law does allow for pari-mutuel gambling, which consists primarily of gambling on horse racing and simulcast. Alabama, unfortunately, remains one of the few states to have legalized greyhound racing, which is completely barbaric. Apparently, subjecting dogs who have no choice in the matter to race for the amusement of people is morally just fine, but playing video poker operated by an EPROM chip, and therefore truly random, will rip apart the moral fabric of the state.

Pari-Mutuel wagering is just pooled wagering either by way of live betting or simulcast betting. Some states also have, “Historical Video Wagering,” which is wagering such that people place wagers on races that have already happened on a pari-mutuel basis. The entities who offer these forms of wagering take out a, “Vig,” which is a percentage of all bets made.

The final means of gambling is that Charitable Gambling is specifically authorized by the state, provided the entity to conduct the gambling has the proper licensing. There are restrictions on how many days a charity can conduct said gambling, betting amounts and what sorts of games/bets may be offered.

In terms of Bingo, any laws or regulatory issues regarding Bingo are left up to the individual counties. The state does not have anything whatsoever to do with live bingo.

Pari-Mutuel betting is also technically left up to the counties upon whom it is incumbent t create a racing commission should they choose to have tracks. There are currently four counties who have laws on the books in this regard.

In summary, the Yellowhammer State specifically restricts the majority of gambling, and what it does not restrict is left for the counties to handle.

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Gambling Options in Alabama

There are only four locations in Alabama that would qualify as casinos, though there are also a few racetracks and bingo centers. The four casinos are:

Greenetrack Bingo & Racing

The gambling offerings of Greenetrack Bingo and Racing are a racetrack as well as Electronic Bingo machines. This is an example of a venue that has Class II Electronic Bingo devices that look and play like slot machines, but actually, pull prizes from a designated community pool. The facility is known to have at least 300 machines, occasionally features live dog (greyhound racing) and also offers simulcast wagering. This facility is located in Eutaw, Alabama off of the Martin Luther King Memorial Highway.

Wind Creek Casino Montgomery

The Wind Creek Casino is another Tribal Casino located in Montgomery, Alabama. This is owned by the Poarch Band of Indians who the State of Alabama attempted to sue for offering Class III games back in 2013, but that lawsuit was thrown out.

What complicates matters here is that Wind Creek Casino Montgomery can offer Class II devices or Class III devices, so it might be difficult to tell which ones are which. The website for Wind Creek Montgomery does not offer a specific count of the number of machines available at the location, though it does list a few of the games that are available. From what we can tell, Wind Creek Montgomery does not have any racing operations of any kind.

Wind Creek Casino Wetumkpa

Stylized as Wind Creek Wetumpka, this is another location that is owned by the Poarch Band of Indians and is capable of offering both Class II Electronic Bingo Gaming as well as Class III machines. There are thought to be over 1,000 total gaming machines located at this property, which also does not have any racing operations.

Wind Creek Atmore

Another of the Poarch Band’s, “Wind Creek,” branded properties, the Wind Creek Casino in Atmore, Alabama is also capable of offering both Class II Electronic Bingo devices as well as Class III Gaming products. This is another casino that does not seem to have any sort of racing operations, instead focusing on its over 1,000 gaming devices. This casino is located and Atmore and has a hotel consisting of over 100 guest rooms.

VictoryLand

VictoryLand consists of just over 500 electronic Bingo machines and also conducts simulcast wagering for horses as well as greyhounds. At one time, the property had a hotel and consisted of 7,000 gaming machines, but the hotel no longer operates. This establishment is located in Shorter, Alabama and is privately owned by the McGregor family, with the original owner, Milton McGregor, having passed away in early 2018.

Carnival Fantasy Casino

To be clear, the Carnival Fantasy Casino is not a casino in Alabama, it is a casino that is located on a cruise ship which departs from Alabama, specifically from Mobile, Alabama. The casino may only operate when the ship is at sea and must be closed completely while in port, lest it would violate the laws of the State of Alabama. The Carnival Fantasy Casino consists of both machines and table games, players are encouraged to realize that Cruise Casinos often have bad machine returns, in general and occasionally have substantially poorer tables games rules as compared to land casinos.

Racing (No Casino Style Machines)

Birmingham Greyhound Racing

Birmingham Greyhound Racing consists of live racing operations five days a week as well as offering simulcast seven days per week. It is regulated by the county, as opposed to the state, which leaves any pari-mutuel regulation up to the racing commission of the county in question. This establishment also consists of other forms of entertainment, such as billiards and darts as well as a driving range. It is located in Birmingham, Alabama, and is not a tribal property.

Mobile Greyhound Park

Mobile Greyhound Park is operated by the Poarch Band of Indians and consists of simulcast horse racing as well as simulcast greyhound racing. This place is located in Theodore, Alabama, which is near Mobile (as the name would imply). While owned and operated by the Poarch Band of Indians, dba Wind Creek, this establishment is not on tribal land, which is why it does not consist of any machines. There is only simulcast greyhound and horse racing. For those of you unfamiliar with the state, this is pronounced, “Mo-Bye-Ill,” with a hard I sound in the middle. Not like the word, “Mobile,” which means able to move.

Are Casinos In Alabama Legal?

In terms of land-based casinos, it depends on how you look at it.

When land is owned by Indian Tribes, such as the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, it is theirs to do with as they please and is mostly not regulated by Alabama law. Which is why, much to the chagrin of the Yellowhammer State, these machines may exist at some of these locations.

As we see with one of the simulcast racing centers, if the Tribe owns property that is located on land that constitutes the State of Alabama (as opposed to Tribal land), then the tribe may not offer any sorts of machines at that place as it falls under the regulatory jurisdiction and purview of the State of Alabama, and more specifically, the County in which it is located for live racing, simulcast racing and live bingo operations.

The cruise ship gambling is legal to the extent that waters are generally excluded from regulatory oversight, so when the ship leaves port, after a certain number of feet into the water, it is no longer in the State of Alabama. That’s why the casino may not operate while the ship is in port or for the last few feet as it approaches port.

Therefore, brick-and-mortar casinos in Alabama are, in fact, illegal. However, there are casinos that some people would consider, “In the state,” that are operating perfectly legally.

As we discussed, back in 2013, the State of Alabama attempted to sue the Poarch Band of Creek Indians for offering Class III Gaming devices (which are the kind you would find in states with licensed and regulated casino gambling) and the State of Alabama lost in this lawsuit.

In terms of gambling laws as relate players, the State of Alabama offers that it is illegal to, “Knowingly advance or profit from unlawful gambling activity as a player.

Therefore, any form of gambling that is not specifically authorized by the state, that takes place in the waters or on tribal land, is specifically illegal. Again, the reason that is so is because those forms of wagering are not taking place within the state, or have otherwise been specifically authorized by the state.

The state conveys upon its counties the right to authorize live and simulcast wagering, as well as to regulate it, by creating a racing commission for the county. Therefore, those forms of betting are specifically legalized as the rights and responsibilities have been conveyed unto the counties and the counties have chosen to do that. The same can be said for charitable live bingo, where it is conducted because the state has specifically legalized that.

Pursuant to the wording of the statutes, both online gambling, as well as social gambling, would be illegal, but no law enforcement authority would ever take action against a person for gambling in their own home, online and we have certainly never heard of them doing so. Granted, if you were operating an online casino from within the State of Alabama, there would undoubtedly be consequences for that, but nobody has any way of knowing if you are just a player playing at an overseas website.

When it comes to offshore websites who operate within the State of Alabama, they are technically doing so illegally, but Alabama does not have the jurisdictional law enforcement reach to really be able to do anything about it, even if they wanted to. It is for that reason that the owners of online casinos that offer services to U.S. players (other than those specifically licensed, authorized and regulated by the states, such as in New Jersey) don’t make it a habit of coming over here or making themselves known if they do.

Alabama law also makes, “Possession of a gambling device,” illegal and defines it as any device that is being used to gamble. In other words, by gambling online, your computer could theoretically become a gambling device. Again, there is no way that this law would be enforced against a mere player who is playing from home unless he decides to report himself!

In terms of enforcement, Alabama has aggressively closed a few, “Internet Gambling Cafes,” which would be public-facing businesses. They have also cracked down on illegal sports betting rings, one of which was an actual sports gambling site that was based in Alabama and offered its services to citizens of Alabama. From what we can tell, no action has ever been taken against a mere player for playing online.

It was previously reported on this site that Alabama simply chose not to do anything about electronic bingo, horse and greyhound racing and slot machines, so we should correct that.

Electronic Bingo: This is conducted by the Tribes who conduct it on Tribal Land and regulate it themselves. This technically takes place on Tribal land, so the State of Alabama has no authority to make it illegal.

Slot Machines: Again, Tribal land, the Yellowhammer State lacks any jurisdictional authority to do anything about this, even if they wanted to.

Live and Simulcast Horse & Greyhound Racing: The State of Alabama specifically confers the right to the counties to authorize and regulate these activities themselves by way of creating county racing commissions. These forms of gambling are not at all illegal in the State of Alabama, provided they have been regulated by an agency created by the county.

Prognosis For The Future

We do not expect the gambling laws in the State of Alabama to change too much. It’s still quite the Puritanical Christian Conservative state, and quite frankly, they wouldn’t even put up with the machines on Tribal land but for the fact that they have no choice.

Conclusion

The State of Alabama is undoubtedly one of the more restrictive states when it comes to gambling, and that is not likely to ever change. The only way it might is if they ever face a significant budget deficit, as that occasionally seems to change the minds of some Legislators as being an easy money grab.

At the time of this writing, the State of Alabama does not even conduct a lottery, which is easy revenues, so that should tell you how far they are behind the rest of the country.

Online casino players should have nothing to worry about if they are just playing from home on an off-shore located website. Not only would Alabama law enforcement have no real way of knowing about such activity, it is also extremely unlikely that they would ever have any reason to care. We can certainly find no instance of any mere players falling into legal trouble.

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