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Bill may legalize electronic bingo

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April 1, 2009

Bingo played for money is legal in Alabama as long as it is run by or for the benefit of a nonprofit organization. Now there is proposed legislation for a Constitutional amendment authorizing bingo in certain counties. It would require a state compact with Indian bingo facilities, levy a 20% tax on bingo operations and limit electronic bingo to 14 locations in the state.

The bill, HB 676, calls for Alabama's Poarch Creek Indians to enter into a revenue-sharing compact with the governor by January 1, 2014. The Poarch operate casino-style bingo operations in Atmore and Wetumpka under federal law that allows gaming on tribal land held in federal trust. In the past, the tribe has attempted to negotiate compacts with Alabama governors that would add table games to their casinos, but those efforts were unsuccessful.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. John Knight (D-Montgomery), Rep. Marcel Black (D-Tuscumbia) and Rep. Richard Lindsey (D-Centre) and has been approved by the House Tourism and Travel committee. If passed by the House it will face stiff opposition in the Alabama Senate.

If the bill is passed by both houses of the legislature, it would be on the statewide primary ballots in June 2010.

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