Bessemer considers electronic bingo again

By Alan Collins

BESSEMER, AL (WBRC) - Once again the Bessemer City Council is looking to pass an electronic bingo ordinance.

A majority of the city council said Tuesday it supports the regulating and taxing electronic bingo operations within the city.

"We need money to pave roads, sidewalks, even with our school system, that's money to support our youth... trips, football, basketball all of that," said Louise Alexander, Bessemer City Councilwoman.

The new ordinance considered Tuesday would tax every machine at $150 each and mandate at least 500 machines at a location. Bessemer Mayor Ed May walked out on the meeting because May said the city council is trying to push through an ordinance without a public hearing.

"It may not be wrong legally, but I think they owe it to citizens of Bessemer to give them a chance to participate in the deliberative process," May said.

Not everyone on the council says they will support the ordinance.

"I'm against bingo," Jimmie Stephens Bessemer City Councilman said. "I've been instructed by my constituents to be against the bingo because it appears to be an attempt to circumvent the state laws with local ordinances."

May opposes depending on revenue from electronic bingo. The mayor questions why some on the city council support the ordinance.

"Quite frankly I believe some of our people may be compromised," May said. "As some of our legislators are compromised or may have been compromised. I believe that."

Alexander dismisses the mayor's accusation.

"We had over 350 people who lost their jobs," Alexander said. "There are unemployed single parents out there with kids who need the revenue."

The council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance next week. Mayor May said he plans to veto it.

"God's will, if I'm still here, yes, absolutely."

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