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‘Sweet Home’ Bill Bad Deal

By Mike Hollis

February 12, 2010, 5:30AM

Alabama lawmakers should kill a bill that would set up a constitutional referendum on legalizing electronic bingo. The people of Alabama certainly want an end to the dispute between Gov. Bob Riley on one side and Attorney General Troy King and gambling interests like Milton McGregor and Ronnie Gilley on the other.

But this legislation is a poor means to that end.

The Times remains firmly opposed to gambling for a number of reasons, but voters ought to have a more meaningful choice to either legalize gambling or turn back the clock 30 years.

There are several flaws in this “Sweet Home Alabama” legislation. The Legislature should turn it down if for no other reason than it would give McGregor, Gilley and a few others an incredibly lucrative monopoly. That’s bad public policy for the state and its taxpayers.

Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, the bill’s Senate sponsor, argues that limiting gambling to 10 sites, including McGregor’s Victoryland and Gilley’s Country Crossing, would keep gambling from spreading. But if gambling needs to be restricted geographically, why allow it at all?

Supporters of the bill say it will create jobs and increase tourism. Then why should Houston, Macon, Greene, Jefferson, Lowdnes and Mobile counties have a corner on creating jobs and boosting tourism this way?

Another section of the bill would allow voters in each county to decide in a constitutional referendum whether to allow a single casino. But the bill imposes a minimum $100 million investment for any new casino.

That’s a prohibitively high barrier to entering the market, and it makes electronic bingo franchises that would be created by the bill all the more valuable.

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Pastor with Anti-Gambling Group says Wiregrass Senator

Influenced by Country Crossing Cash

By Press-Register staff

February 11, 2010, 6:15AM

harriannesmith.jpeg

State Sen. Harri Anne Smith: Anti-gambling group in the Wiregrass says she received money associated with the  Country Crossing bingo establishment and so should not vote on any pending bingo legislation in the Alabama Legislature.DOTHAN, Ala. — Rev. Tom Anderson, spokesperson for Concerned Wiregrass Citizens says campaign finance reports for state Sen. Harri Anne Smith, R-Slocumb, show that she has received contributions from people and businesses associated with the Country Crossing bingo and entertainment establishment and that she should recuse herself from voting on any bingo legislation pending in the Alabama Legislature, the Dothan Eagle reports.

The campaign finance reports on file with the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office indicate Smith received more than 60 $10 or $20 individual contributions from a fundraiser held at the site of the annual Bamajam Country Music Festival last December in Enterprise, the Eagle reports. In addition, about 30 separate cash contributions of $500 were made from businesses affiliated with Country Crossing or its developer, Ronnie Gilley.

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Holley PUNTED on this issue! His constituents should be aware that he is essentially voting FOR the casino cartels’ bill.  Time to find Mr. Holley a NEW line of work.

Republican Senator Supports Statewide Bingo Referendum

By The Associated Press

February 10, 2010, 4:29PM

Jimmy HolleyView full size(Alabama State Senate)State Sen. Jimmy Holley said a statewide vote on bingo is needed.State Sen. Jimmy Holley, R-Elba, said Wednesday a constitutional amendment that would let Alabamians vote on the electronic bingo issue is needed.

“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,” he said.

The senator from southeast Alabama opposed similar legislation last year.

That constitutional amendment could come up for debate in the Senate on Thursday or Tuesday. Democrats pushing it will have to pick up support from a few Republicans for it to pass.

In other developments Wednesday, the commander of the gambling task force, John Tyson Jr., sought to gain potential evidence from a federal court lawsuit against the Macon County sheriff and VictoryLand. The suit alleges illegal activity involving VictoryLand in Shorter, but records in the case have been closed to the public, including Tyson.

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