Boothe: Voters should decide bingo’s fate

Published 10:41 pm Thursday, February 4, 2010

A proposed constitutional amendment has been introduced to the Alabama House and if passed will let voters decide the legality of electronic bingo, and at least one of Pike County’s local legislators is in support of it — or at least some version of it.

Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, said electronic bingo is an issue that should be left to the public.

“I’m for letting the people vote and taxing it,” Boothe said. “If we’re going to allow it, it should be taxed.”

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The bill, introduced to the committee Thursday, would legalize electronic bingo at certain locations in Alabama, reported the Associated Press.

Boothe said this particular bill isn’t the only one in discussion in House committees.

This bill, introduced by Democratic Rep. Marcel Black, of Tuscumbia, would ask voters to determine the legality of electronic bingo in the Nov. 2 election, and if it was legal, it would be taxed and regulated.

This would only be for certain locations, including already established gambling sites at the greyhound tracks in Mobile, Greene, Macon and Jefferson Counties, Country Crossing in Dothan, White Hall in Lowndes County, a second undetermined location in Birmingham and an undecided location in the fourth and fifth Congressional districts, the AP reports.

Boothe said the bill hasn’t come for discussion in the House, and he isn’t sure exactly when it will.

Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne, said he has a little different take on the issue.

“I am against expanding gambling in our state, with respect to the gambling that’s already here,” Mitchell said.

But like Boothe, Mitchell said if electronic bingo is here to stay, it should be taxed.

“If it is legal, I think it should be taxed and regulated,” he said. “If it is illegal, it should be closed down.”

Mitchell said he would not support any bill like this one if it has expansions to the gambling already in the state, but he might consider it if it would only include what’s already here.

But, Mitchell said this isn’t an issue that should be dealt with in the legislature at this time but rather in the courts.

“This is a legal issue. It needs to be settled once and for all. The attorney general says it’s legal. The governor says it’s illegal, and the court is sitting on its hands,” Mitchell said.

“We have to wait on that decision before we can do anything.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.