Alabama voters are a step closer to deciding whether sports betting will be legalised in the state after a bill was passed by lawmakers.

The Alabama house passed two bills on Thursday which envisage the expansion of commercial gambling in the state.

Bills HB151 and HB152, both sponsored by Representative Chris Blackshear, must still be passed by the state’s upper house. The former, as a constitutional amendment, also requires confirmation by the public and would be added to the ballot in November.

Governor Kay Ivey, who would then have to approve both bills, said in a statement on Thursday that the bills “in their current form” have her support.

“The proposal passed by the house will clean up and crack down on the rampant illegal gambling and will give Alabamians the opportunity to have their say on regulated, limited forms of gaming,” Ivey said.

What the gambling bills include

On Thursday, HB151 was passed 70-32 by the House, with HB152 passed 67-31. The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee approved the two-bill package on voice votes on Wednesday.

HB151 would legalise retail and online sports betting, a state lottery and casinos in areas of the state that have bingo-type games. It would also authorise the state to negotiate a gaming compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which operates the three existing casinos in the state.

Bill HB152 creates a state lottery and gaming commission to regulate those sectors of gambling in the state. It would create an Alabama Gaming Commission that would license the casinos and include a law enforcement division. The Alabama Gaming Commission could license up to six casinos, with the seventh belonging to the Poarch Band.

“Finally, at least from the house perspective, we heard you loud and clear from the polling, and we’re giving the citizens the right to decide what they want in the state as it relates to gaming,” Blackshear said to reporters after the bills’ passage.

The Legislative Services Agency estimated the state could receive as much as $900m from the lottery, casinos and sports betting. That includes revenue that would come from a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

Blackshear said at a public hearing earlier this week that expanded gambling could bring in as much as $1.21bn to the state. According to HB152’s fiscal note, $315m to $492.2m would come from casinos and up to $42.5m from sports wagering. Between $305.6m to $379.4m could be raised from lottery. Blackshear said another $300m would come from a potential compact with the Poarch Band.

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