House Bill 154, proposed by Rep. Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia, will now go under consideration by the Alabama House of Representatives.
Black said the bill would provide state-regulated casinos a chance to compete with those on Native American reservation lands.
“I proposed it to allow operators who have electronic bingo to be on an even playing field with those Indian operators of electronic bingo and to allow them to have the same product and the same machines,” Black said.
Communications director for the governor’s office, Jeff Emerson, said the governor’s office is trying to inform legislators about the negative aspects of the bill and the harmful impact it will have on the state.
“When we tell legislators what’s really in this bill, they become very concerned about it,” Emerson said.
Gov. Bob Riley has continually opposed this type of legislation.
“It’s the taxpayers who are the ultimate losers,” Riley said in his State of the State address Jan. 12. “In states with casinos, for every one dollar casinos contribute in taxes, they cost taxpayers at least three dollars in additional government services to deal with the devastation the casinos leave behind.”
Emerson said the governor will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.
“Unfortunately in Alabama a veto can be overridden with just a simple majority vote,” Emerson said.
Emerson said the bill would allow anyone to open a casino anywhere in Alabama.
He gave an example of what could happen if the bill passes.
“If a company based in Las Vegas sells slot machines to VictoryLand, under the definitions in this bill, that company could come and open a casino in Alabama,” Emerson said.
Emerson said the bill, contrary to the Democrats’ promises, does not tax, regulate and limit gambling.
Doug Rainer, spokesman for Country Crossing, said there is another part of the legislation that will be introduced.
“A constitutional amendment is the next part of this that will be introduced that will tax, regulate and limit bingo in the state, and Country Crossing is also 100 percent behind that movement,” Rainer said.
Rainer said the profits from electronic bingo help Houston County.
“One hundred percent of net profits from electronic bingo all are distributed back to charities in the community,” Rainer said.
Todd Stacy, press secretary at the governor’s office, said the bill would cause much more harm than development.
Passing the bill would harm the economy, damage families and have negative political consequences, Stacy said.
“Money spent at the casino isn’t spent at the grocery store, at the hardware store, in the local economy where it’s really generating jobs,” Stacy said.
Emerson said some Democrats believe gambling is beneficial for the economy, but others rely on gambling to fund their campaigns.
“A major contributor to a lot of Democratic legislators is Milton McGregor,” Emerson said.
McGregor is the owner of VictoryLand and Quincy’s Triple Seven Bingo Casino, which offers more than 6,400 electronic bingo machines.