Let the voters decide

Published 2:42 am Friday, February 5, 2010

A proposed constitutional amendment introduced in the Alabama House allowing voters to decide if they want to legalize electronic bingo games in certain areas of the state. On its face, the amendment looks good.The measure would allow electronic bingo at greyhound tracks in Mobile, Greene, Macon and Jefferson counties. It would also allow games in those already established entertainment centers: Country Crossing in Dothan, White Hall in Lowndes County and a site in Birmingham and a couple of locations, yet to be named in the 4th and 5th Congressional districts. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Marcel Black, a Democrat of Tuscumbia, would see an election Nov. 2, if approved by the Legislature.

Apparently Black has taken something from Congressman Artur Davis’s play book. Black’s proposed amendment calls for the state to receive 20 percent of gross income from bingo and local governments to receive 5 percent each month. The only exception is Houston County, which gets a five-year grace period of paying only 7.5 percent to the state because the casino has invested so much into the area, the amendment states. But Houston County would have to pay the 5 percent local tax as soon as voters approve the measure. Those tax dollars would to into the Education Trust Fund and the state Medicaid Program.

Earlier this week while in Selma, Davis advocated higher taxation for Alabama gambling establishments and he wanted to see the revenue earmarked for the Education Trust Fund and the state Medicaid Program.The amendment seems reasonable. Perhaps members of the state legislature will be just as reasonable.

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