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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Two GOP senators support bingo bill

Republican state Sens. Jimmy Holley and Harri Anne Smith have said they support a bill that would allow a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment that would legalize and tax electronic bingo at destination points in the state, according to a report in the Dothan Eagle.

Holley and Smith could be very key votes in the fight over electronic bingo, which Gov. Bob Riley and many Republicans believe are slot machines that are illegal in Alabama. The Democrats would need 21 votes to stop a filibuster on the bill, which is expected, and to pass the legislation.

There are 21 Democrats in the Senate and 14 Republicans, but one of those Democrats typically votes with Republicans.

"The events of the past few weeks dictate and clearly point to the fact that a final resolution to electronic bingo's legality will require the people of Alabama to exercise their right to vote on the issue," Holley, R-Elba, said in a Wednesday release. "I will support a vote on a constitutional amendment on the bingo issue if the amendment provides for a strong oversight commission, taxes the machines in an amount that is fair to the people of Alabama, and brings closure to this sad chapter in Alabama's history."

Holley and Smith, R-Slocomb, represent areas where feelings are strong about the Country Crossing development, which recently shut down due to threats of a raid from Riley's Task Force on Illegal Gambling. Hundreds of people lost their jobs when the complex, which includes a bingo pavilion and restaurants, shut down.

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee approved the bill on Tuesday and a top senator has said the bill would come before the full body on Thursday or early next week.

Holley opposed a similar measure a year ago, according to the Dothan Eagle, because it created a monopoly for a few operators, and would take money from local charities.

The senator said the ongoing fight between Riley and Attorney General Troy King over the issue and the attempted raids at Country Crossing near Dothan and VictoryLand in Shorter contributed to his belief that a statewide vote is the best way to solve the conflict.
"I am still reviewing the legislation and will monitor any changes to the proposal. However, ultimately only a vote by Alabama's citizens will bring the issue to a conclusion," Holley said in the statement. "This is a great state whose citizens believe in democracy. If this legislation is placed on the ballot for a vote, then the final resolution would be in the hands of those who exercise their constitutional right to vote."
-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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