Mitchell opposes bingo bill

Published 10:05 pm Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A bill that will allow state voters to decide the legality of electronic bingo in the state could come up for debate in the Senate as early as today.

Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne, said that he would not support the bill, as is.

“I cannot support a bill that proliferates gambling,” Mitchell said. “When these bills were spoken about the very first time, they said there would be no additional gambling in Alabama.”

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Mitchell said that in its current state, the bill would expand gambling in Alabama beyond the 10 current locations.

“I have read the bill, and it looks like to me that it expands gambling,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said he thinks the bills will eventually come up for debate in the Senate, but not in their current form.

He also said he received a call telling him that these were not the bills that are going to be presented and that the bills were being worked on all day Wednesday.

He also said there were Indian groups meeting with the chairmen of both the House and Senate finance committees about different approaches to the bills.

“I don’t know what they are, but they were telling me there were going to be significant changes in the two bills,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said that he thinks the new versions of the bills would not expand gambling.

“I cannot support a bill that expands gambling in our state,” Mitchell said. “But, there’s a lot of other Senators who feel the way I do, and I feel like that may be some of the changes they’re trying to make.”

Mitchell said there are several things he would want in a revised bill.

“I want to make sure the regulators are truly regulating gambling,” Mitchell said.

“I want to make sure the state benefits tax wise from it.

“The people who make a profit from gambling, need to pay state taxes on their profits.”

Another bingo-related bill may make its way to the Senate in the coming days, as well.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-3 Wednesday on a bill that would halt raids on casinos by the governor’s antigambling task force and allow them to operate.

Seven Democrats voted favorably for the bill, and three Republicans opposed it.

Senate Republicans plan to filibuster the legislation that Gov. Bob Riley called “the biggest fraud ever perpetuated on the people of Alabama,” reported the Associated Press.

House leaders said they don’t plan to take up the legislation until they see what happens in the Senate, reported the Associated Press.

*The Associated Press contributed to this report.