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THURSDAY, AUGUST 23, 2007
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Hartselle mayor may ask for electronic bingo ban

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com · 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Mayor Dwight Tankersley said he may consider asking the City Council to amend its ordinance to ban electronic bingo.

His comment came Wednesday morning moments after a man representing a company called to request an application about bringing electronic bingo to Hartselle.

The man said he would send his company name and request for an application to City Hall this week.

His request was the second for electronic bingo in Hartselle in less than two weeks.

“I don’t think this is good for our city,” Tankersley said about electronic bingo.

Hartselle’s 24-page bingo ordinance and a two-page amendment the previous administration approved do not ban electronic bingo.

The council majority agreed to amend its ordinance to allow bingo operators to use 51 percent of the proceeds for expenses. The ordinance now allows 25 percent. Decatur allows 51 percent.

Tankersley wonders if the proposed increase has something to do with the surge in request for bingo applications.

“I wish we could do it just for American Legion, but I know we can’t,” the mayor said about the proposed amendment.

“The Legion has done a lot of good work in Hartselle and needs the additional proceeds to operate.”

Bill Partridge, who is chaplain of American Legion Post 52 on Sparkman Street, requested during an Aug. 13 meeting with city leaders that Post 52 be allowed to use more bingo proceeds for expenses.

Tankersley warned the council during the meeting that other people had expressed an interest in bringing bingo to Hartselle.

Cullman attorney Gregory Johnson submitted a request for a bingo application before Hartselle discussed increasing the percentage of proceeds operators can use for expenses.

Johnson said he is representing Rick and Annette Graveman, Cullman residents who operated sweepstakes games until a unanimous Alabama Supreme Court ruled the machines illegal.

To operate bingo, Johnson said, his clients plan to use an established non-profit organization in Hartselle or form a limited liability corporation with multiple charities in Hartselle.

Tankersley said a partnership with charitable organizations will not qualify the Gravemans for a bingo permits.

The city’s ordinance says the organization seeking the permit has to be a nonprofit established as a 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The organization also has to have been in existence three continuously years in the city limits and owned or leased property for at least three years in Hartselle.

“I don’t think you’re going to find many organizations (in Hartselle) that qualify that are interested in electronic bingo,” Tankersley said.

The council meets Monday, but city leaders said they will not discuss amending the bingo ordinance until September.

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