Bill would let voters decide if bingo OK

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 5, 2010

MONTGOMERY (AP) — A proposed constitutional amendment was introduced Thursday in the Alabama House and Senate that would let state voters decide if they want to legalize electronic bingo games at some locations in the state.

The amendment by Rep. Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia, and Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, would call for Alabama voters to decide in the general election Nov. 2 if they want to allow electronic bingo at some locations, tax it and regulate it.

It would also create a state gaming commission to regulate the games. The amendment calls for a tax on the amount of money paid into the machines, minus winnings.

Bedford said he supports the proposed amendment because it would shut down illegal gambling operations and make legal gaming centers pay their fair share of taxes.

The bill would allow the electronic bingo at greyhound dog tracks in Mobile, Greene, Macon and Jefferson counties.

It would also allow the games at the Country Crossing complex in Dothan, at White Hall in Lowndes County, at a second undertermined location in Birmingham and at undecided locations in the 4th and 5th Congressional districts.

The bill was introduced as the governor’s task force on illegal gambling has been attempting to close down several electronic bingo operations.

Black said he hopes a statewide vote on the issue would put to rest any questions about the legality of the electronic bingo games.

“I saw this as the way to go before we got into the current mess that we are in,” Black said. “I think the people want to put this issue to rest and the only way to do that is to let them vote.”

Riley’s communications director, Jeff Emerson, said the proposed constitutional amendment “has nothing to do with bingo.”