West Alabama bingo hall opposes gambling bill

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KNOXVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston) is pushing a proposed gambling bill in the legislature however some folks in west Alabama are less than happy about the proposal. 

It would limit gaming to five designated locations in Alabama—one of those in Greene County.  If it passes it would allow slot machines, video lottery, poker, blackjack and more.

Some in West Alabama like Jerry Bajalia are not happy with the proposed bill and are opposing it. Bajalia is the gemeral manager at the Palace Bingo in Knoxville, Ala.  He says if the bill is approved his bingo operation would have to eventually shut down and at least 80 employees would lose their jobs.

“There are hundreds of jobs at stake for families here and kids and it just will be destroyed,” Bajalia said. “It will all be done, that building would be empty from now on for years to come. There is no other industry in Greene County that could support a building this size.”

The Mayor of Forkland is also nervous and concerned. Charlie Mcalpine also opposes the proposed gambling legislation. Forkland receives nearly $20,000 per month in bingo charity funds and now that could be in jeopardy.

“Well this bill is devastating and if it passes, we are going lose a third of our employees,” Mcalpine said. “And pretty much all the services we provide to the town itself.”

Mcalpine tells CBS 42 all four municipalities in Greene County receive bingo charity funds.  The money is used for first responders, schools, the County Commission and the hospital in Eutaw.  If the bill passes, Bajalia says all four bingo halls would be forced to close except for Greenetrack in Eutaw.

“It’s awful and all these people are really worried about it, it’s already affected the economy and people who had planned on buying a home or a vehicle are reluctant to do so because they are afraid,” Bajalia said.

The gambling bill is expected to be debated on the Senate floor and could possibly go up for a vote next Tuesday.

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