Voters should have gambling say

Published 11:33 pm Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Today the Senate will vote on procedures that could see the body taking up electronic bingo. But first they have to have 21 votes.

The Alabama Legislature is moving into the second half of the session. That means supporters of certain measures must move their bills soon or they’ll die. Bingo legislation died last year.

Two measures in the Senate up today focus on electronic bingo.

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One bill would allow White Hall Entertainment Center in Lowndes County and two other casinos reopen without fear of raids by the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling. The other two casinos are VictoryLand in Shorter and Country Crossing in Dothan.

The second bill is a constitutional amendment voters could decide on Nov. 2. If voters give the thumbs-up, the bingo casinos could expand to 10 locations. The state would tax and regulate the centers.

Sen. Hank Sanders, who represents Dallas County in the Senate, voted to put the bills on the body’s work agenda. He has told The Associated Press he won’t vote for the bills unless changes are made.

The Associated Press reports Sanders says he’s concerned the 10 locations will wind up in the hands of a few people who are in the gambling business.

The voters of Alabama should have the ultimate say-so about electronic bingo here. Their representatives in government owe them that much.

And for the other bill that would open the casinos? Too many people in Lowndes County were without work already when White Hall Entertainment Center closed.

Let them open again without fear of reprisal at least until the voters in Alabama speak in November’s election.