State Lawmakers Anticipate New Bingo Bill

By: Tim Elliott Email
By: Tim Elliott Email

A hearing on a restraining order, blocking a planned raid on Country Crossing that was set for Tuesday has been rescheduled for January 20th.

Electronic gaming continues to be controversial in the state and is just one of the hot topics on the agenda for the 2010 Alabama legislative session, which begins tomorrow.

The Houston County Commission sent letters to Governor Bob Riley and Attorney General Troy King over the weekend.

In the letters, the commission expresses their desire to settle this dispute over electronic bingo in a civil manner.

It's all in an effort to convince lawmakers to put the issue on June’s ballot.

“This has gotten way out of hand, it needs to be handled civilly, it needs to be resolved,” said Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver.

He wants to find common ground on this Country Crossing controversy.

“We just don’t believe that we ought to be about putting a thousand or so people out of work in Alabama with the economy the way it is. And we believe we can have this thing resolved without putting them out of work,” said Culver.

In the commission's letter to the governor, leaders called the dispute a "black eye" on the wiregrass.

“I’m so proud of our commission chairman and mayor of Dothan for the support letter that they've sent hoping to resolve this in a peaceful manner,” said State Senator Harri Anne Smith.

Senator Smith anticipates some sort of bingo bill will be introduced this legislative session.

She says she's all for letting citizens speak up.

“I feel comfortable there will be a bill introduced on electronic bingo and if it is and the people want to vote ‘yes’ on the issue then at that point we should tax it, regulate it, and I think use that money for education and use that money for the general fund budget,”

Culver agrees.

“It needs to be put on a ballot and let the people of the state of Alabama make the decision is where it really needs to be resolved and I implore our legislators to do that in this session immediately,” said Culver.

With budget cuts expected statewide…

“Revenue's down sales tax revenue is down in the state and so we're going to be facing a huge problem,” said Smith.

Leaders hope the electronic bingo is resolved sooner rather than later.

“Let’s get it on there and June and let's resolve this issue that's tearing apart the state of Alabama,” said Culver.

Culver is heading to Montgomery Tuesday for the start of the legislative session.

He says he's going to reiterate that they have complied with all state laws regarding Country Crossing.

He says he's also going to defend the more than one thousand people who work there.

News 4’s calls to the governor’s office for comment went unanswered.

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