Alabama Senate to address bingo today

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 3, 2010

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Proponents of electronic bingo mustered enough votes Tuesday to put their bills on the Alabama Senate’s work agenda, but they’ll have to wait to see if they have enough votes to pass the legislation.

The Senate voted 19-16 to place two bingo bills on the agenda for this week. Then the lawmakers adjourned until this morning. That’s when the Senate will face crucial procedural votes that will require proponents to collect 21 votes if they want to keep their bills moving through the Legislature.

A proponent, Senate Rules Committee Chairman Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, said the procedural votes weren’t taken Tuesday because negotiations are ongoing.

“There are still two or three major issues we are trying to work out with members to have the 21 votes we need,” Barron said.

One of the bills would allow three closed casinos, VictoryLand in Shorter, Country Crossing in Dothan, and White Hall Entertainment Center in Lowndes County, to reopen without the fear of raids by the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling.

The other bill is a constitutional amendment that would be on the general election ballot Nov. 2. If approved by Alabama voters, it would allow electronic bingo casinos to expand to 10 locations and tax and regulate them.

Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, voted to put the bingo bills on the Senate’s work agenda Tuesday, but said he won’t vote for passage unless changes are made. He said he’s concerned about a few people already in the gambling business gobbling up the 10 locations.

An opponent, Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, said that if proponents don’t have the 21 votes Wednesday, he expects them to try to delay the procedural votes until Thursday.

If the bills win approval in the Senate, then they will go to the House for consideration.