Talks continue on electronic bingo

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - No debate again Thursday on a constitutional amendment to legalize electronic bingo in Alabama. The Alabama Senate instead took up non-controversial bills.

Talks are underway behind closed doors, where bingo supporters are trying to find 21 votes to pass the bill for ten locations in the state.

"I believe we well get vote for the people of Alabama," said Sen. Roger Bedford of Russellville. "I think we will have one of the toughest gaming commissions in America. We will have strong tax rate in there."

The bill's sponsor is working to build support. Some Alabama senators, including Bessemer Sen. Priscilla Dunn, say they will back the bill but are opposed to limiting to only ten locations. Dunn wants her district included to help people who have lost work get a job.

"Their folks are out of work, too," Dunn said. "They had lost jobs and they lost their jobs. They have children to feed."

The bill faces strong opposition, mostly from Republican senators, who object to being excluded from the compromise talks.

"All this talk about whether the people should vote, good, bad for it, there is not even a bill," said Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale. "Citizens haven't seen a bill. Senators haven't seen a bill.  House members haven't seen a bill."

"A lot of changes need to be made to the bill," said Sen. Jabo Waggoner of Vestavia Hills. "They need to start over. That's the reason I'm opposed to the bill."  

Talks are expected to continue through the weekend in trying to find a compromise bill. Supporters hope to have the votes they need by the time lawmakers return to Montgomery next week.

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