MIDFIELD, AL (WBRC) - The city of Midfield is opening its doors to electronic bingo.
The city council unanimously approved a new ordinance on Monday to allow bingo within the city limits in an effort to raise revenue for the cash-strapped city.
Midfield Mayor Gary Richardson briefly proposed shutting down the city's police department earlier this year in an effort to save almost
$1 million a year and help keep the city's finances afloat. He abandoned that idea after public protest, but said the city needs to find new revenue.
Richardson said he only had to look at the full parking lots at bingo halls only a half mile away in Fairfield to see where some new money could come from.
On Monday, Midfield's city council used input from potential bingo charities to revise it's proposed ordinance, then adopted it unanimously despite some objections.
"Not a problem, I just don't want to see the city turn into a major bingo hall," said Midfield Board of Education member Nate Hutton. "I want to see other business grow. I know we need the revenue, however I do not want to see us turn into another Las Vegas, we can do other things here, also. We do need the revenue, but let's not turn into a great big bingo hall because then you're bringing in all kind of unwanted clientele into the city."
"We're not here to pass moral decisions," Richardson said. "We're here to pass laws that enhances the life of our citizens and financial viability of the city, and that's what we've done."
Midfield's bingo law would charge hefty fees to both bingo operators and the companies that lease the machines to charities, companies that one operator says keep 40% of each machine's take. But the hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential revenue may never show up if a court strikes down electronic bingo in the Bessemer cutoff, a possibility the mayor is prepared for.
"We have no investment except the time it took to pass this ordinance," Richardson said. "There is no legal liability on this city, it falls squarely on the shoulders of those who seek to participate in these type of operations."
A final hearing on whether electronic bingo machines are legal in the Bessemer cutoff is expected sometime in January.
Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls ordered bingo machines in the rest of the county to be removed back in October.