Senate approves bingo bill; measure moves to House
By By Kerry Whipple Bean
The state Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that, if it passes the House, would allow Alabama residents to go to the polls in November to vote on an amendment to regulate electronic bingo.
The “simple bingo bill,” as sponsor Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, had termed it, is a streamlined version of a bill Bedford introduced earlier this session. The bill would create a state gaming commission to regulate electronic bingo and would tax gambling at least 25 percent, an amount Bedford has said could increase.
The bill passed 21-13.
State Sen. Marc Keahey, D-Grove Hill, who introduced similar legislation earlier this session, voted in favor of the bill. Several other bills — with varying degrees of regulation and taxation — were also introduced this session.
State Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, had said previously that he could not comment about any of the bingo legislation until it came before the House.
Gov. Bob Riley, whose gambling task force has attempted to shut down several gaming establishments across the state, slammed the bill just before it passed the Senate. “The bill isn’t about gambling. It’s about corruption,” Riley said in a statement. “This is the most corrupt piece of legislation ever considered by the Senate. Gambling always brings corruption with it wherever it goes. Alabamians should ask themselves one question about this bill: do they think we will have less corruption or more corruption if it passes?”
Bedford’s original bill would have determined 10 destination points where electronic bingo would be located, including existing casinos.