By Alan Collins
MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - "We are finally to the point," Senator Hank Erwin of Montevallo said.
The Alabama State Senate voted 19 to 16 to take up legalizing electronic bingo gaming at ten locations in Alabama.
On Good Day Alabama on Tuesday, Senator Rodger Smitherman says the bill is all about getting six thousand employees who lost their jobs in raids by the Governor's Illegal Gambling Task Force back to work. "You are talking about jobs. That's the central theme of this process. You have people out of work who were working in these facilities," Smitherman said.
But, there will be strong opposition in the state senate. 21 votes will be needed to pass the constitutional amendment. "These two bills on the special order calendar are not about bingo. They are about gambling. They are disguised as bingo," Erwin said.
Opponents do not want to give monopolies to existing dog tracks and bingo operators in Alabama, but supporters contend the state needs to tax and regulate the facilities. "If we didn't have people like you at the microphone, we could have taxed them for 27 years and put hundreds of millions of dollars to educating our children," Senator Lowell Barron of Fyffe said.
The Senate has set aside the next two days or longer to pass the constitutional amendment. Supporters say the voters should have the final say."What you are going to do is denying the people a vote to tax this gaming, regulate this gaming and control this gaming," Barron said.
The opponents to the Sweet Home Alabama plan say they will filibuster and do all they can to kill the measure."If it gets out of here, in my opinion, it will tear this state apart," Erwin said.
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