The New Law On Mobile Fighting Stops Mobile Sports Betting
Mobile County in Alabama has long had a bad reputation for lawlessness and greed. Once a gambling mecca, it has since become synonymous with Mobile County’s ugly past. Mobile has long been known as the “Gangster County” of the Deep South. I’ve never been ashamed to admit that I have gambled at local bars here (Mobile is known as the biggest “mobile casino” in the south.) Over the past few years I’ve noticed a disturbing trend of public officials looking the other way while county residents were placing their bets on sports books that provided information that could lead to a law suit.
The first of its type, SB 118, banned anyone other than the Mobile Indians from participating in the mobile sports betting industry. No longer could a non-Indian deal with an Indian sports book. Nothing, though, has gotten past this ban. In mid- 2020 the Mobile Indians will once again be able to deal with the mobile sports betting industry. This time the ban will be stricter, this time with an increase in licensed establishments. This time the Mobile Indians will only be allowed to operate two sports books at any given time.
Just days before the election, Mobile County voters will once again be allowed to place a sports wagering question on the upcoming municipal election ballot. This time around the question will be on the list of items to be decided on by voters. If the “no” vote wins the election, the ban on mobile sports betting in Mobile will be overturned. If the “yes” vote wins, the ban will remain in effect.
Already Mobile residents who voted against the ban have been fighting hard to keep their seats. Two of the three seats on the board of supervisors are up for grabs. One seat is up for election to be supervisor of business services and one seat to be supervisor of inspections and tax collections. If the voters choose to keep the ban in place for the upcoming2019 election, they will be voting to keep an already established tax collection regulation in place. If they choose to overturn the ban, they’ll once again be opening the door for local governments to regulate sports betting.
There are some notable prohibitions that aren’t commonly known about. For instance, in Alabama it’s illegal to conduct live wagering on any race held in the city of Tuscaloosa. Alabama law specifically allows live wagering on non-public events held in the state, but not on anything held in Tuscaloosa.
Regulation of sports wagering in Mobile won’t be complete without the establishment of a commission. The Mobile Casino and Hotel Authority will need to designate a sports wagering manager. This person will be responsible for ensuring that all laws and regulations are met. The Mobile Casino and Hotel Authority aren’t expecting to come up with their own regulations for in-house management of sports wagering, though. That job will probably be left to the state licensed gambling and sports gaming establishments in Alabama. Until the Mobile Casino and Hotel Authority develops its own policies for in-house and online gambling, it’s going to be up to those establishments to manage their own in-house sports wagering.
Finally, the ban in Mobile doesn’t affect a lot of businesses. In the big scheme of things, there’s very little money at stake for anyone except the contractors and the business owners who drive into town every day to do their jobs. Mobile isn’t the only city in Alabama that doesn’t allow in-person gambling. According to the news station WPSI in Alabama, the town of Milledgeville is among several cities in southern Alabama that don’t allow live betting. So it will be interesting to see what happens in Mobile when the ban is implemented.
So what can you do now? According to the mayor of Mobile, the new law on gambling took effect on July first, but was delayed until after the municipal elections were over. So the timing is important. If the polls were closed before the law was enacted, then you might be able to get into the games you wanted, but chances are slim. It’s more likely that you won’t be able to access the games you love. So even if you were planning on attending some of the games you were going to miss out on this new law, you’ll just have to grin and bear it and enjoy your favorite team’s win instead.