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Legislators: Gambling not dead issue

By By Kerry Whipple Bean
publisher

The sponsor of one of the Senate’s bingo bills does not believe the issue is dead yet, halfway through the legislative session and even after a vote turning down debate on the subject.
At a town hall meeting Thursday night, state Sen. Marc Keahey and state Rep. Alan Baker discussed the bingo legislation that has tied up state senators’ time for much of the first half of the session.
Last week senators voted against taking a vote on a bingo bill that would have given residents a chance to vote on a constitutional amendment to tax and regulate electronic bingo.
Keahey said he believes the issue is not dead yet.
Baker said he has not determined how he would vote on legislation because he has not seen a bill before the House, but he said some lawmakers would rather see a bill for a constitutional amendment that allows a straight up or down vote on bingo. If it passed, legislators could then determine regulations.
Keahey sponsored a bill that would allow for a constitutional amendment that would limit gaming to eight locations, require a 50 percent investment in non-gaming facilities, and regulate and tax gaming through a state commission. But he said Tuesday he would support legislation that allowed a straight up or down vote on the issue.
Keahey, who said he has never played bingo, said he wouldn’t necessarily vote “yes” himself on an amendment to allow electronic bingo, but he said he believes the voters deserve the chance to decide.