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Alabama Again Targets Illegal Gambling Machines

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange was thrust into the middle of the electronic bingo machine battle a couple of years ago when he took office. After sitting back and surveying the landscape, Strange has now decided the time has come for stricter penalties.

The debate over electronic bingo machines has gone as high as the state Supreme Court. The court ruled in one case that the machines were illegal under state law, but stopped short of declaring all electronic gaming machines illegal.

Strange will soon ask legislators in Alabama to make the penalties harsher for those operating illegal machines. Currently, the crime is a misdemeanor, and Strange would like the penalty upped to a felony. It is unknown whether the Legislature will take up the issue this session.

Over the past few years, Alabama has been the center of attention thanks to a national story in which senators, gaming hall owners, and lobbyists were arrested and charged in a bribery scheme. Country Crossings developer Ronnie Gilley pleaded gulty in the scheme. VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor fought the charges, and was found not guilty.

In the aftermath of the trials that sent Gilley, several senators, and lobbyists to jail, McGregor vowed to reopen his business. That prompted Alabama law enforcement to again start cracking down on the machines.

Over the past year, there have been several raids involving the gaming machines in Alabama. Strange took Monday to outline his plan to make the penalties harsher. Several lawmakers are on record as stating they do not want to toughen up the laws until there is a clear definition of whether or not the machines are legal or illegal.

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