A 'no-go' for bingo in Ala. House - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

A 'no-go' for bingo in Ala. House

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Posted by: Eileen Jones - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It was a "no go" for "bingo" in the House. With only two meeting days left in this legislative session, the House delayed the expected vote on the gambling bill. The bill would regulate, tax and legalize electronic bingo games. But, time is wrapping up for the bill as it makes it's way through the House.

When you walk on the 5th floor of the State House you will be greeted at the information desk by Ernestine Crowell. She also answers the phone for the House members. "House of Representatives"  is usually how she greets the constituents. "M' am who is your state representative?" she can be heard asking.

The delay in the bingo vote means more time for legislators' constituents to have their say. Crowell says "It's been years since the phones have blown up like this. Overall they want to let the people vote." Cowell also says just Monday and Tuesday of this week, she has received at least 600 phone calls. All wanting her to get a message to their Representatives. Then came the questions. "Would you say it's twice as many - three times as many? Her answer was surprising. "At least three times - more. Let the people vote. It's amazing."

But, that's not the message that seems to be getting through to House members. The bingo vote was delayed because supporters don't have enough votes for it to pass. The sponsor, Representative Marcel Black, says they need to sway about a handful of the legislators.. "I think it's probably 5 or so" he said.  Then he was asked, "So we're talking maybe, like I said,  a half dozen people?" Black says, "That's more accurate. That"s correct." And, he was asked about the political parties. "Republicans and Democrats?" He admitted the undecided's belong to both.  "There are some Republicans that we've tried to convince as well as Democrats."

There was still another question that had to be asked. "And, these are people who are leaning in the other direction or your direction? Black says, "They're still undecided. I would say, like the old saying, some of them are leaning straight up right now."

The Governor's office says delaying the vote only gives casino lobbyists more time to influence lawmakers. The Governor's Communications Director says quote "We've all seen reports of legislators saying they were offered contributions in exchange for their votes on this bill. So, giving lobbyists more time to pressure lawmakers should be troubling to every Alabamian, regardless of whether they support gambling or not."

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