No bingo rules yet

Published 11:59 pm Monday, June 22, 2009

“Bingo is dead in Covington County,” said the chairman and each commissioner Monday before agreeing they would postpone adopting rules and regulations for charitable bingo until a higher governing body determined the legality of electronic bingo.

The group, along with about 30 representatives of the local Baptist community, met to discuss bingo in a workshop prior to the county’s regular meeting.

“I said something last week saying I was going to ask the commission to not let electronic bingo come to the county,” Sasser said. “Let me add something to that. I believe the issue is dead now.”

Commissioner David Ellis countered Sasser’s statement, saying he didn’t believe the commission had the authority to override state law.

Local legislation — passed in 1993 by the state legislature — sets rules for charitable bingo in Covington County and gives the sheriff authority to issue $100 permits for charitable bingo and sets guidelines for issuing those permits.

Constitutional Amendment 565, approved by voters in 1994, allows charitable bingo in Covington County and charges the county commission with setting rules for it.

“I have the utmost respect for you but I don’t think we — as a commission — have the authority to overrule constitutional amendments,” he said. “I don’t think the sheriff wants to permit bingo and I don’t think we want to regulate bingo at this time. So as far as I’m concerned it’s a dead issue and should be put back before the public and let them vote on it at the next election.”

Commissioner Bragg Carter said while he believes the Alabama Supreme Court should determine the legality of electronic bingo, he felt there should also be safeguards in place to protect Covington County’s citizens.

“I don’t see where (the commission) can change something like a constitutional amendment,” he said. “We need either the Supreme Court or the people of Alabama to do that. My feelings on (electronic bingo) is that if (the court says) it can come in and if one did, I want to put rules in place to protect the people. And if (electronic bingo) did come in, I think the county should receive something out of it.

“But whether or not it can come in, that’s not up to (the commission) to decide,” he said.