Bingo decision needs to be fair

Published 6:33 pm Friday, February 12, 2010

As we are now fully entrenched in this Legislative session it’s easy to spot this year’s hot-button issue: bingo.

Lowell Barron, the chairman of the state Senate’s Rules Committee, said the Senate was required by state law to address on Thursday the routine bills that continue the existence of several state agencies and boards. He said the Rules Committee will put the bingo legislation atop the Senate’s work agenda Tuesday, which is the next meeting day.

Some legislators — namely State Sen. Bobby Singleton, who represents our county — have made dismantling Gov. Bob Riley’s gambling task force a personal crusade. It’s still relatively unclear whether such facilities are legal to begin with.

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What is troubling is the amount of effort put forth to dismantle the task force and tax these establishments. What’s further troubling is this bill only has provisions for 10 existing locations around the state. Many counties have not allowed bingo halls for one reason or another, namely because their legality was in question.

Thanks to this bill, the counties who waited for a clear ruling will not only be shut out of being able to take advantage of this new insight, but it protects those that may or may not have been in violation of the law in the first place.

Singleton’s motivation is clear: He also represents Greene County, home of Greenetrack. However, what he’s done in protecting that facility hinders others he’s paid to represent.

If charity bingo is legal, and it’s going to be regulated and taxed, then there should be opportunities for someone other than Milton McGregor and the others who risked flaunting the law. That includes any development of similar facilities in this county should officials opt to authorize it.