New bill passes keeping bingo halls out of neighborhoods

CALHOUN COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Calhoun County bingo halls may face a new regulation if a proposed constitutional amendment makes it past the voters.

On Thursday, the State Senate voted to approve a bill that gives voters a choice about the location of bingo hall that keeps them from opening within 3,000 feet of a residence. The House of Representatives passed it last week.

This bill comes after the controversy created by Big Hit Bingo last spring and summer. The bingo hall was at the end of a sparsely populated road, a private one maintained by the residents. People who live there said the bingo hall created a lot more noise, and because they have to pay for the road themselves, it was an added expense.

“Anywhere from 3 to 400 cars a day,” said Thomas Farmer, an area resident. “We had people sitting in front of the house in the middle of the night, revving their engines, slinging gravel.”

Farmer said his representative proposed the legislation, hoping to help his neighborhood. Big Hit Bingo was shut down last July by the Calhoun County Sheriff, who said the operation had failed to properly file paperwork. Farmer hopes it stays shut down. There’s an obstacle, though. Because the proposal must be on the ballot for voters to decide, there won’t be any decision made soon, and likely not until the June 2018 elections.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Farmer said. “Yet we still have to worry about dealing with somebody prior to next year, when it’s voted on. So hopeful, but not very confident.”

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