Newest bingo bill limits contributions

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 20, 2010

Both Speaker of the House Seth Hammett, D-Andalusia, and Sen. Jimmy Holley, R-Elba, said they expect yet another piece of bingo legislation to come before the legislature when it reconvenes next week after its spring break.

Hammett said the bill will likely be introduced in the Senate by Sen. Roger Bedford, whose earlier attempts at passing bingo legislation this session failed.

Hammett said the new legislation calls for a constitutional amendment that defines the game and establishes a commission to regulate it. It also gives the governor, lt. governor, the speaker of the House, and others the authority to appoint members to the gaming commission, and prohibits those seeking election to offices with appointing authority from receiving campaign funds from gambling interests.

The bill will tax gambling revenue a minimum of 20 percent at the state level and 5 percent at the local level, he said.

The 16 counties in which charitable bingo is currently allowed would not be affected by the new legislation in the ways that previously proposed legislation did.

If Alabama voters approve the measure, the legislation calls for a special session of the legislature to be convened in the last week of January 2011 to establish rules governing bingo.

Holley said he has not had the opportunity to read the new legislation, but has heard that it will be introduced this week.

The legislature has got to get to the budgets, Holley said. He said he expects the education budget to begin in the House, while the Senate will first take up the general fund budget.

“We’ve been waiting to see if there would be a $200 million reimbursement for Medicaid passed in Congress,” Holley said. “If that didn’t pass, we needed to take $200 million more out of that budget.”

He said it’s his understanding that Congress did pass that measure this week.