BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The increased debate over legalizing electronic bingo has not shifted the opinion of the Jefferson County Commission. The county is facing financial problems from the sewer debt crisis and a new threat to the occupational tax from a legal challenge. "If that tax is illegal, then we would be required to repay all of the money we collected, which would put us in a critical situation," Bettye Fine Collins, Jefferson County Commission President said.
Collins says the loss of the tax could force the county into job layoffs but this time it would be permanent, forcing a return of long lines at the courthouse.
With Alabama lawmakers debating a constitutional amendment to legalize electronic bingo gambling, do commissioners believe this could help solve the county's financial troubles? "I would not wish that on any county. We don't have an ordinance here that required the permitting of such businesses," Collins said.
Commissioner Shelia Smoot supports taxing and regulating electronic bingo gambling. Smoot says she can't understand Gov. Bob Riley's crackdown which has lead to hundreds of people losing their jobs at gaming facilities. "What we need is a solution now. Keep the bingo parlors open until you can get these folks some additional relief," Smoot said.
Commissioner Jim Carns, a long time gambling opponent, says gaming is not the answer. "I think it's a shell game. Some folks make a lot of money. General citizens get hurt," Carns said.
"I don't understand why we won't allow people to vote for bingo. It's that simple. Put it up to the vote of the people," Smoot said.