Bingo bill meets OK in Senate

Published 10:19 pm Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Alabama Senate approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would protect electronic gaming casinos from raids.

The Legislation, that would also impose a minimum 25 percent tax on casino revenues, was passed by a vote of 21-13 after debate commenced Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.

The bill must now be approved by the House before it is brought to the polls in the November election.

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“I think it’s being touted correctly,” said Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne, prior to the vote Tuesday. “It’s a chance for the people to decide.”

The new legislation would give voters the opportunity to reject bingo machines in the state, without the possibility of already-existing locations like Victoryland and Country Crossings slipping through cracks and legal loopholes.

Alternately, if the bill were to receive enough go-ahead votes, it would be up to lawmakers and a state-run gaming commission to grind out the details.

“If the people vote yes, the next Legislature will have to put in taxes and regulations.”

Mitchell said he approves of the substitute bill because it allows voters more control over the issue.

“For the people to vote yes or no under the constitution, is the way it ought to be,” he said.

The AP said Gov. Bob Riley called the bill “the most corrupt piece of legislation ever considered by the Senate” because he said it will allow gambling to expand to potentially every community.