The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow Alabamians to collect antique slot machines without violating the state law against gambling and games of chance.

House Bill 40 is sponsored by State Rep. Chip Brown (R-Hollingers Island).

According to the synopsis, “Under existing law, it is a Class A misdemeanor to possess a slot machine. This bill would exempt from the crime of possession of a gambling device, under certain limited circumstances, slot machines manufactured before 1960.”

Brown explained that this allows antique collectors and museums to possess the antique slot machines.

“They can only be used in private homes or clubs,” Brown said. “They cannot be accessible to the public.

“This has passed out of the House three years in a row,” Brown explained, “But the Senate runs out of time.”

Brown explained that there is a lot of demand for “pre-1960 slot machines. They cost upwards of $20,000.

“They are penny and nickel slots,” Brown explained. “They are using them for their personal collection or in a museum and are not accessible to the public. You could not buy one of these and put them in a bar and you would not do that anyway because it is so expensive. We are one of only two or three states without an exception for antique slots. Louisiana did this two years ago.

“It is limited to pre-1960 because after 1960 they started making them electronic,” Brown explained on the House floor. “We were very careful that you could not expand it to beyond personal use.”

State Rep. Reed Ingram (R-Montgomery) said, “What if it was a private club or a personal home and they were having a party.

“It still is gambling,” Reed said. “People could be using it for extra money.”

Rep. Thomas Jackson (D-Thomasville) said, “I want to let you know that when it comes to entertainment I am for that, like NASCAR or the Super Bowl this week. When people get so narrow-minded that they can’t understand other people’s entertainment we are getting carried away.”

“I have only gone there for informational purposes of course,” Brown said of having visited casinos.

Rep. TaShina Morris (D-Montgomery) said, “We do not want to criminalize the behavior of Alabama citizens in their own homes.”

Reed offered an amendment to the bill on the House floor.

“What the amendment says is that it is for buying, selling, collecting only, but no gaming or gambling,” Reed said. “If they gave a quarter to their son to put into it nobody is going to say anything about that, but you could have a collector who has 30, 40, or 100 of them and run it as a private club.”

“I don’t want to make criminals out of good people,” Brown said. “I urge members to vote no,” on the amendment.

The Reed amendment was rejected 27 to 45

The House passed HB40 on a 79 to 15 vote.

The bill now goes to the Alabama Senate for their consideration. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Tourism.

Wednesday will be day eight of the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session.

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