Electronic bingo shut down in Alabama senate

By Alan Collins

MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - Supporters of electronic bingo in Alabama suffered a major setback Wednesday after the Alabama Senate failed to get enough votes to bring up a constitutional amendment for debate.

"It was a clear vote," said Sen. Roger Bedford of Russellville. "Let the people vote or not let the people vote. The chose not to let the people vote. It' think it's crying shame and will be one of the darkest days in the  history of the senate."

The final vote, 18 to 16, stopped an amendment that, if passed, would have given monopolies to only a few existing bingo operators.

"The bill was flawed," said Sen. Jabo Waggoner of Vestavia Hills. "The monopoly issue. The tax issue compared to other states."

Governor Bob Riley lead the fight against the constitutional amendment and welcomed it's defeat.

"The more you look at it, the more there would be a level of corruption that would rival anything that every happened in this state," Riley said.

Senators who supported the Sweet Home Alabama bill say the loss of the vote will mean the loss of money for the state.

"The state needs the tax money," Sen. Lowell Barron of Fyffe said. "We need the millions of dollars. Taxing bingo would bring that into the state."

Some senators who opposed expanding gambling say voters should still decide the issue. Gardendale Senator Scott Beason is calling for an advisory statewide vote -- not a constitutional amendment, but a vote to let the legislature know if people want gambling or not.

"I personally think people are against gambling," Beason said. "Others feel they are for it. Lets find out before we go through all of this."

As for the prospects of getting another vote on the constitutional amendment, the bill's sponsor says no.

"I think it's over," Bedford said.

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