There are six statewide amendments on Tuesday’s election ballot as well as a number of county-specific amendments. In Calhoun County, voters get to consider an amendment that sponsors claim is a “fix” for charity bingos operating in the county.
Sponsors claim that if Calhoun County voters approve this Alabama constitutional amendment, it will restore the legality of existing charity bingos such as the one that Elks Lodge plays.
Calhoun County charity bingos have been in legal limbo since 2018. Voters then approved an amendment that would ban bingo within 1,000 yards from any residence. The target of that amendment was supposedly Big Hit Bingo near Southside. Big Hit Bingo has closed, but technically, the recently passed constitutional amendment also applies to other existing bingo games that apparently were not being targeted by their state legislators.
Authorities have not closed the other bingo, but technically under the law, most of them have been operating illegally for two years.
A “yes” vote for this amendment would undo what voters did to charity bingos two years ago.
Bingo in Alabama is a game played on paper cards and not a game played with any sort of electronics. Under the current understanding of the Alabama Supreme Court, electronic bingo is still illegal, outside of certain casinos owned by American Indian tribes that are licensed federally.
This amendment would not change that prohibition against electronic bingo.
This was supposed to have been on the March 3 primary ballot, but someone at the state of Alabama forgot and left it off the ballot, so it is on this ballot instead. When voters went to the polls in March, the amendment wasn’t there. State officials in March acknowledged that it was left off by mistake.
“If everybody did it right we wouldn’t be here now,” Rep. Randy Wood, R-Saks, told The Anniston Star’s Tim Lockette.
When printers left this amendment off the March 3 ballot, Wood sponsored another amendment in the Legislature during the 2020 legislative session in order to get the amendment on this ballot.
A “no” vote would simply leave the constitution as it is and any charity bingo in Calhoun County within 1000 yards of any residence would need to be closed.