Drop this bingo bill
Published 6:12 pm Monday, April 19, 2004
The "Bingo for Books" bill is now the "Bingo for Books and Beds" bill.
What's changed? In order to garner more support for the bill that would allow electronic gaming at dog tracks around the state, the bill's sponsors have added that tax dollars would go to state Medicaid as well as education.
As you'll recall, the proposed legislation would allow the inclusion of electronic gambling machines, like electronic bingo, in the dog tracks that operate around the state.
Wednesday, we questioned the wisdom of this legislation and questioned just how much of this tax money would make it to our schools after it reached Montgomery.
We can easily assume the amount of money actually reaching our schools to do any good would be less than projected. After all, as columnist and Goat Hill veteran Steve Flowers pointed out in Wednesday's Advance, pork projects siphon millions of dollars from the state budget and important funding areas every year.
Montgomery has given us no reason to believe this legislation and this stream of tax revenue would be handled any differently.
Within days of our original editorial, we've already seen a reduction in the amount of money our schools would receive. Now, part of that proposed gaming tax revenue will also go to prop up the state's ailing Medicaid budget.
It's the political equivalent of name dropping. The original bill couldn't get enough support to even make it to the floor for a vote in the state House of Representatives, so the chefs added a little more spice by throwing some money at Medicaid.
We're not addressing gambling as the issue here. We are concerned with this specific bill and its potential effects on Atmore.
We agree with Poarch Creek Chairman Eddie Tullis, who believes this bill will do far less to educate the children of our state and far more to enrich a few powerful interests running the dog tracks.
We are also concerned that increased gaming at dog tracks like Mobile Greyhound Park may pull business away from our neighbors and the Creek Bingo Palace.
Whether you like Bingo and gaming or not, much of the money spent up the road winds up in our economy, from visitors buying gas and food, to employees spending their paychecks here in Atmore.
We seriously doubt this legislation will help education as much as claimed, and it could prove harmful to our local economy.
Our state is in a budget crunch, and we certainly support proper funding of education. We supported a local tax issue right here in Escambia County for schools. But "Bingo for Books and Beds" is Bad for Business; the business of Atmore.