Electronic bingo bill highly anticipated in State Senate - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Electronic bingo bill highly anticipated in State Senate

MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - The big question at the statehouse: will electronic bingo come up in the Alabama State Senate?

Under a revised proposal from Russellville Senator Roger Bedford, all gaming operations will be taxed at 27%. Of that, 20% would be split between the education budget and Medicaid plus other senior services. 5% would go counties with no electronic bingo. 2% will go schools with electronic gaming.

"I think the people  understand the issue. If people vote it in, I want to see they limit gambling, we tax it heavily and regulate it strongly," Sen. Roger Bedford said.
             
Sen. Rodger Smitherman of Birmingham says the bill is about getting six thousand people back to work. "Jobs, revenue and it gives people the opportunity to vote. That's a key element. It's a constitutional amendment," Smitherman said.
               
Senators opposed to the bill are under attack. "These are desperate guys. It's an election year," Sen. Steve French of Birmingham said.
   
French and other anti-gambling senators have been attacked in newspaper ads across the state. "They keep going up on taxation but they are still well below what is average is for other states," French said.
               
Bedford says no. The Democratic lawmaker says the tax rate is higher than Louisiana, Mississippi, Atlantic City New Jersey, and Las Vegas.

Some lawmakers may vote for the bill if it did not limit electronic bingo to ten locations. Bedford disagrees. "Some say you are letting the tracks to get to the head of line. That's what other states have done when they converted over," Bedford said.

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