Alabama’s Longtime Hostility to Gambling Shows Signs of Fading

By Alan Blinder

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Even more than its Bible Belt neighbors, Alabama has steadfastly resisted legalizing gambling for generations. 

The clout of evangelical Christians helped make sure of it: Joe Godfrey, the top lobbyist for the state’s most powerful churches, once received an Inauguration Day promise from an influential politician that no proposal for gambling would make it through the State House while he was in office. 

But the resistance is now openly fraying, suggesting that gambling is no longer a potent moral issue that animates voters and politicians the way it once did. 

As the landscape shifts in Montgomery, the state capital, the consequences may reverberate across the South, where nearby states gladly rake in billions of dollars that Alabamians are not allowed to wager at home. 

The Supreme Court opened a new front last month when it cleared the way for sports betting in any state that wanted it, a ruling that neighboring Mississippi swiftly moved to embrace. And on Tuesday, Alabama voters in both major parties nominated candidates for governor who favor a vote on creating a state lottery. 

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