There is a war going on in Alabama. It’s bitter and it’s dirty. It is pitting the lame-duck Governor Riley against the Attorney General, Troy King. It has a Task Force headed by a lame-duck District Attorney who took over the job when his predecessor was found to be a gambler using websites such as 먹튀! Middle of the night heavily armed raids with no warrants have been foiled by fast-acting attorneys. As the old song says – I tell ya folks – we got trouble right here in River City with a capital G and that rhymes with B and that stands for Bingo. You see venues across the state have opened which have slot machines that are really fancy bingo machines because bingo is legal and slots are not. Except of course if you are on an Indian reservation – then it’s ok even if the reservation is in Alabama.
Any day in most Alabama newspapers you can read about this serious conflict and the millions of dollars being spent and the thousands of jobs being lost in rural counties desperate for new opportunities to financially survive. Television ads accuse the governor of accepting money from gambling interests in Mississippi to keep casino gambling out of Alabama. The new head of the Taskforce – Mr. Tyson – admits having accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of donations from gaming interests to his campaigns in the past.
On Friday, February 12, 2010, the Mobile Press-Register ran an article stating that on Tuesday a bill marketed as the Sweet Home Alabama plan, which has been written by negotiating with gaming executives, legislators, county commissioners, and city council members, would be introduced so that on November 2 the voters of the state could decide to rewrite the constitution to allow electronic bingo casinos called ‘points of destination’ at 10 locations statewide. Each location could have as many as 1000 gambling machines. Electronic bingo machines would be banned everywhere else in the state.
The same day the newspaper also reported that the leader of the Legislative Black Caucus Rep. John Rogers has asked the attorney general to intervene and stop the shutdown of electronic bingo casinos around the state. If he refuses the group will ask for a U.S. Department of Justice Department investigation into what Rogers calls the ‘harassment and threats’ of casino owners and their employees by Gov. Bob Riley and his Task Force on Illegal Gambling. The attorney general is holding a conference on Wednesday and it is expected that he will address this request. The Mobile Press-Register reported on February 14, 2010, that King has already cautioned the governor that he could be ‘unnecessarily subjecting the state treasury to millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars in liability’. Governor Riley and Mr. King have been at odds on this subject and the governor chose to not include the Attorney General on the Taskforce which originally was created in December 2008.
The machines look and play just like regular slot machines and money is paid out based on rapid computerized games of bingo. Victoryland in Montgomery and County Crossing in Dothan have already closed to prevent the confiscation of their machines by those conducting raids. Greenetrack in Greene County remains open with warnings from Mr. Tyson that they will raid without warrants and shut them down if they do not voluntarily close their casino operations. The sheriff of Greene County Ison Thomas has even threatened to authorize the deputizing of citizens for the purpose of stopping the raids.
So far there has not been any bloodshed. But if the leaders of this state continue in the direction they are going it won’t belong.