A move to ban electronic bingo in two counties

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A state representative is trying to make sure the raid that happened at White Hall Entertainment Center in March won't ever take place in either Elmore or Autauga counties. Rep. Mac Gipson (R-Prattville) has introduced bills that would prohibit electronic bingo in those two areas of the state.

Governor Bob Riley's Task Force on Illegal Gambling is hoping the raid on White Hall will eventually prove, once and for all, whether machines that look like slot machines are legal in Alabama, but Gipson isn't waiting for that day.

"Alabama is considered the 'Wild West' of gaming...in the gaming industry because we have absolutely no regulations..." he explained. "We have no gaming commission and I just felt it was a good idea to protect the two counties that I represent."

If his two bills pass one will prohibit bingo in Elmore County and the other will prohibit it in Autauga County. "It's just a little pre-emptive measure to make everybody over here feel secure. If they want to go play bingo on the electronic machines they can travel to do it," Gipson said.

Both bills were just introduced last Thursday so they both have a long way to go if they make it through the legislature. The bills are both constitutional amendments which means the people will have the final say. It would only take one "no" vote in the legislature before the proposed amendments would have to be voted on statewide. That would take place during the general election of 2010.

The representative's bill would exempt bingo machines operated by American Indian tribes in Elmore County, however. "The Indians will probably retain it whether I exempted them or not, but I didn't want to get into that hassle. So, I thought it just simpler to take them out in Elmore County."

The folks who talked with WSFA 12 News like Rep. Gipson's idea. Autauga County resident Arnold Pledger said, "I certainly agree that ought to be done cause I'm not for any form of gambling, and it does not encourage working for what you make."

"I don't think we need to legalize any gambling what-so-ever in this county," was the stance of fellow Autauga County resident Pat Brothers. "I think we've fought it and we've stated our facts and I hope we continue to."

There were people who don't like the idea of prohibiting electronic bingo from their communities, however, but the only people who would talk to us on camera were those who support the bills.