Statehouse confrontation may make pro-gaming look bad

By Alan Collins

MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - The heated confrontation at the Alabama Statehouse may have been costly to electronic bingo supporters. Pro gambling and anti-gambling forces collided at the Statehouse Tuesday.

Gov. Bob Riley thought he would be addressing an anti-gambling rally, instead the governor was heckled during much of his speech against a bill legalizing electronic bingo. "I don't care who you are, how powerful you are. No one should have a monopoly in the state,"Riley said.

Even First Lady Patsy Riley was not spared. "Show respect to a southern lady. If you just pipe down, just a moment, just a moment, "Riley said.

UAB political pollster Larry Powell says this was big negative for the pro-gambling side. "This is a one of those incidences where politeness theory applies. If you are rude you lose, no matter what your argument is. They were rude to the governor and first lady. That is going to hurt them."Powell said.

Powell says the strategy may have been to provoke the anti-gaming crowd into being rude too but that did not happen.  The bill which caused the heated confrontation never came up for a debate in the State Senate.

The constitutional amendment limits electronic bingo to ten locations. Powell believes other areas will have to be considered in order to get more additional support."The current version with limited bingo is a hard sale. They are going to have to open that up some."Powell said.

There is no word if there will be more rallies at the statehouse.

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