The legality of online poker has been unclear in Alabama over the years, and even today, nobody can really tell where the state laws stand with it. For one, nobody will drag you to prison even if you play online poker as long as you do not speak of real money in the game. Again, the code should not give any indication that what you were doing is anything to do with online gambling. Seems like the case of an uncaught thief, so to speak. What is explicitly illegal, however, is the case of a company or an individual offering real money to anyone for a gambling activity. Generally speaking, outright gambling, whether it is within a brick and mortar environment or it is online gambling is outlawed in the state of Alabama – at least on paper.
So, where do online poker players stand with the state laws?
The true position is that no poker player has ever been charged in a court of law in Alabama for engaging in online poker. So although poker falls under gambling related activities and it is illegal to pay for gambling, online poker continues to be played in Alabama without the authorities seeming to be perturbed.
Any idea about the history of gambling in Alabama…?
The Alabama state laws have undergone ups and downs in the past century. They have been made and unmade; passed, repealed and overturned; until nobody is sure any more what the next set of legislators is going to do about regulation of gambling within the state.
After the civil war, for instance, the state of Alabama was fast in legalizing various versions of gambling. That included lotteries. In those days, unlike today when online gambling is the in-thing, competitive gambling amongst different states was the order of the day. However, soon a whimsical decision was made which made a good number of gambling activities, including the lottery, illegal, simply because the state of Alabama happened to have been on a losing streak. Come 1901 and the whole gambling business and any other game of chance were criminalized.
And the roller coaster ride continued. Within the 1930s, gambling was again legalized in Phoenix, one of the cities in Alabama, just so that the city could charge a fee for every gambling license issued and raise revenues to run the city that had gone bankrupt. Unfortunately, as the state laws loosened up, incidence of organized crime seemed to rise; and for the many years that state laws continued to allow gambling, crime became the order of the day. Not surprisingly, the gambling freedom came to an end when a relatively more conservative Attorney General (AG) took office in 1954. But with the organized criminal rings well established, the Attorney General did not last long – he was, sadly, assassinated.
Following the death of the AG, the city mayor, who obviously valued the revenues the city was gaining from gambling, overturned the state laws against gambling and poker and other gambling activities resumed without ruffling any feathers. With this kind of history, it is understandable why in Alabama the topic of gambling is sensitive in a kind of sour way; the reason gambling takes place but is not enthusiastically discussed.
What is the position of gambling state laws in Alabama today?
There seems to be a glimmer of hope for gamblers in Alabama as sometime this year the relevant committee passed a bill proposing legalizing of casinos on race tracks and also proposing the launch of a state lottery. The gambling fraternity is actually hopeful that the senate will pass the bill as well and the state laws will from then on continue to give way to gambling.