Florala Mulls Over Bringing in Bingo

By: Tim Elliott Email
By: Tim Elliott Email

Earlier this week, the Florala City Council passed a bingo ordinance, laying the foundation for any future electronic bingo facilities that would like to open up in the Covington County town.

City leaders say the ordinance is all in an effort to boost their slumping economy.

Many Florala residents are split over the bingo issue.

Bingo is legal in Covington County, however, the county commission has opted not to regulate the industry.

Florala leaders say they want that responsibility because their city is in dire need of some revenue.

City leaders say bringing bingo to Florala could jumpstart their economy.

“The city council felt like a potential option for economic development in the City of Florala was to pass a bingo ordinance,”

Mayor Robert Williamson believes bingo may be the answer for a city that's been struggling for decades.

“We are in a community that has been deteriorating for 35 years, so we feel like the economic future of Florala is at stake and we owe the citizens of Florala the obligation of looking at the possibility of electronic bingo,”

But some residents feel bingo isn't the way to go.

“Gambling is wrong!” said Sam Tatum, a resident against electronic bingo.

“I don’t go for gambling, it's against god's law and it's against my rules too,” he added.

“I think it would bring money in but I also think it would be a pest. I think it's more trouble than it's worth,” said another detractor.

Others say it's time for Florala to take a chance.

“I think that it might help a little bit of revenue and tourism and a lot of things to the city you know, we really don't have a lot here so it might be a positive influence,” said a supporter of bringing bingo to Florala.

“This might benefit us in a way so I think they should go along with it cause we don't got nothing else to depend on so it'll be a good thing,” said Bryon Tyson, a supporter of bringing bingo to Florala.

“Right now, I do believe that the citizens of Florala understand that we're really doing our best to think outside the box to try and find a way to pump up the local economy,” said Mayor Williamson.

Williamson feels gaming is coming to Florala and says it's time they get a step ahead, before it's too late.

“Our purpose is to try to get control on gaming interests that come into the city because we feel its coming period and be able to regulate it and tax it and allow economic development to be a part of that industry,” he added.

Attorney General Troy King sent a letter to Florala’s city attorney and Mayor Williamson saying only bingo played on "paper cards" is legal in Covington County.

But Mayor Williamson says he'll continue to look at ways to possibly bring electronic bingo to the city.

The new ordinance in Florala states a bingo facility must have at least 500 machines covering 20,000 square feet as well as at least one hotel and one restaurant.

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  • by Anonymous on Jan 16, 2010 at 06:25 AM
    I say bring it on! I live 12 miles south of florala and we need the jobs badly here. We are mostly farm land out here. I am lucky to have a part time job in the area but others have lost their jobs with no hope of finding income near our area. North FL and South AL needs this income to feed our families.
  • by Brian on Jan 15, 2010 at 08:28 PM
    For bingo to be legal in a county in Alabama, they actually have to get a state constitutional amendment. In Covington County, that amendment specified bingo as being played on paper cards. Ours here in Houston County made no mention of that at all, and in the AG's opinion, electronic bingo is perfectly legal in Houston County.
  • by Zan Location: Local on Jan 15, 2010 at 04:34 PM
    Whoa now If state law makes electronic bingo illegal in Dothan at Country Crossing....then why are you guys even discussing it?
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