If you know anything about the culture of the American South, you more than likely know of the conservative attitude that dominates the region. Though the term “conservative” can mean a host of different things, it almost always means “anti-gambling.” In Alabama, this assessment is not too far off as the number of casinos pales in comparison to many other surrounding states. With that being said, there are casino options so long as you are in one of two select locales.
For more information see our detailed guide to gambling online for real money in Alabama.
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Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Atmore
Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Wetumpka
Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Montgomery
Tribal casinos are nothing more than casino establishments that exist on sovereign land owned and controlled by Native American tribes. Due to the fact that tribes existed in virtually every part of what is now the United States, there are tribal casinos in more states than there are not. Thanks to the passing of a law in the late 1980s, a particular state, even if it wanted to, would not be able to stop Native Americans from pressing on with casino endeavors.
Though the way tribal casinos exist in Alabama is a bit different from what you will find in most other states, they are still unable to be touched by state governments. In Alabama, there have been multiple attempts by the state government to, in some way, alter casino operations, but each of these attempts has come and gone with no success.
A racino, as its name implies, is nothing more than a casino attached to a greyhound or horse track. In Alabama, the first and only racino opened its doors in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, the only things you can do at the state’s racino is participating in off-track betting and play electronic bingo. This has been the casino for more than 30 years and does not seem to be changing anytime soon considering the track is located on state-owned lands and not on tribal lands.
Alabama regulations are somewhat strict, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for Alabama-based gamblers to find a legal and safe place to gamble. The local tribal casinos such as the Creek Casino Montgomery or Wind Creek Atmore give you an opportunity to play classic slots and table games in a live casino setting. However, it’s worth pointing out that Alabama doesn’t have any local racetracks, so pari-mutuel wagering is very limited. Alabama is also one of the few states that don’t have their own lottery, so in the end, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many Alabama residents prefer to play their favorite games online.
According to Alabama Code Title 13A-12-20 section four, a person is considered a criminal gambler if they stake something of value in a game of chance that uses predetermined payouts on outcomes. In other words, Alabama views gambling on games of chance within state borders as illegal, including any gambling done in a home or social settings.
Although there have been no significant updates to the state-level gambling legislation since 1901, local-level changes in gambling policy have slowly started to reform patches of Alabama. Most gambling institutes technically violate the state’s archaic laws, but the businesses manage to exist legally due to various currently standing municipal and county regulations.
Gambling on games of chance is prohibited in Alabama territory, but in 1988, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was enacted. It allows Native Americans to build and operate casinos on their reservation land as long as the casino remains limited to class two slot machines. Unfortunately, these regulations don’t allow for any table game gambling.
Alabama is home to three casinos known as the Wind Creek Casinos, which can be found in Montgomery, Wetumpka, and Atmore. All three are owned by the Poarch Band, a tribe of Creek Indians living in the state. Alabama recognizes eight other Native-American tribes, but only the Poarch Band may operate casinos.
Even though Alabama has been changing its stance on some gambling types, it maintains a firm position against most traditional casino games. In 2010, Alabama Governor Bob Riley campaigned against and successfully closed the Victoryland Casino in Shorter. Two years later, the Victoryland Casino was reopened after legality debates but was then raided in 2013 by the attorney general’s office. This resulted in the seizing of Victoryland’s gambling machines and its final closing.
There are no laws prohibiting Alabama citizens from crossing the Mississippi River into other states that allow a more extensive selection of table games. Players can also visit some of our recommended offshore casinos which offer secure online gambling.
At the time of this writing, Alabama is still in the process of voting on its sports betting laws. With the Supreme Court lifting the federal ban on sports betting, each state must now decide on how it will implement sports betting.
Although the Alabama state constitution doesn’t explicitly ban sports betting, legalizing this form of gambling would require a state constitutional amendment. The parties are divided on how sports betting would benefit the state, but there is a real possibility of sports betting being legalized soon.
There have been no statements on launching any online casino or sports betting operations.
Alabama currently doesn’t differentiate between electronic sports (eSports) and regular sports betting.
Even though they aren’t considered online casinos, fantasy sports and daily fantasy sports (DFS) gambling were still banned in Alabama in 2016. Two recent attempts to get fantasy league gambling reinstated by senator Paul Sanford both ended in failure. As a result, players can’t access popular fantasy gambling services such as DraftKings and FanDuel while in the state of Alabama.
In 1971, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that pari-mutuel wagering on dog and horse tracks was constitutional on the grounds that dog and horse racing is not a game of pure chance, but rather a game which depends on the skill of the animal or rider. Alabama code title 11 enables cities of 300,000 inhabitants or more to determine via referendum whether they allow animal racing and gambling.
The Birmingham Race Court is the sole remaining animal racing track in Alabama, and it only supports greyhound racing and gambling.
Alabama is one of three states that don’t allow lotteries. Unlike other types of gambling that can operate legally due to local-level legislation, the Alabama state constitution explicitly states in section 65, article four that the “legislature shall have no power to authorize lotteries.”
There have been two notable attempts to amend Alabama’s constitution to allow lotteries. In 1998, Don Siegelman was elected governor of Alabama, promising a state lottery to his voters. Unfortunately, the law changes did not get past the referendum stage. In 2015, Alabama lawmakers started work on legislation which would legalize a state lottery and casino-style gambling, but it has yet to be passed. Until the bill is ratified, players will have to rely on online casino lotteries.
In 1980, Jefferson County ruled that bingo would be allowed on a limited charitable basis and amended the state constitution. Since then, 18 more amendments for bingo gambling have been made.
For a short period in 2003, electronic bingo was allowed within the state. Eventually, the Alabama Supreme Court decided to ban electronic bingo on the grounds that more elements of chance were involved than in standard bingo and that the potential for rigged machines was too high.
Currently, only traditional bingo gambling can be found in the three Native-American casinos.
Alabama does not allow its citizens to gamble on poker or any other table games on the premise that the elements of chance overshadow player skill. Due to the wording of the Alabama state constitution, people may not legally host poker games with value stakes in their home or at work.
Players need to either look out-of-state or turn to the internet for online poker options.
The history surrounding not just casinos, but gambling in general, in Alabama is fairly straightforward. For the longest time, the state did not allow any form of gambling whatsoever. Electric bingo halls existed, but their legality tended to vary depending on where you were and even these laws changed frequently. To this day, the laws surrounding electronic bingo halls remains under dispute.
As for the history of casinos specifically, the passing of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988 paved the way for the future. Unable to hold out against tribes that wanted to exercise their right to self-governance, Alabama was forced to fold and allow for the existence of Native American casinos. Though there are a few of these establishments today, it must be noted that nowhere in the state, under any circumstances, is it legal to play tables games. For this reason, even the most extravagant casinos in the state do not exactly feel like the types of casinos you will find in most other parts of the country.
The aforementioned Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 made it possible for Native American tribes across the country to operate casinos as they see fit. In essence, it added extra emphasis to the fact that Native American lands are, indeed, sovereign and able to govern themselves. Even though this Act passed in the late 1980s, Alabama did not see any real casino presence until the mid-2000s. During this time, the Poarch Creek Indians announced plans to open their first casino resort. Despite attempts by Alabama’s Attorney General to halt the project, the Department of Interior reaffirmed that the state of Alabama has no right to govern over what happens on tribal lands.
Despite this, the tribal casinos in the state of Alabama do not play host to any sort of table game whatsoever. There is no real reason as to why this is so, other than the presumption that perhaps the tribes are doing their best not to completely contradict Alabama law.