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Federal Indictment In Alabama May Hurt Future Gambling Plans

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The gambling issue in Alabama had become so heated over the past year, that lawmakers attempted to create legislation to do away with the Task Force on Illegal Gambling and set up a regulated system of electronic bingo gambling. That plan not only failed, but may land some lawmakers in jail.

On Monday, a federal indictment was unsealed and four state senators, gambling lobbyists, and the owners of two of the largest gaming facilities in Alabama were all indicted. The indictment stems from a proposal several months ago to change the current gambling laws.

Governor Robert Riley immediately went on the attack when the legislation was proposed. Riley called the legislation, "the most corrupt piece of legislation ever considered by the Senate." On Monday, Riley received vindication for that comment when it was revealed that the accused allegedly sold and bought votes for the legislation.

Justice Department Criminal Division head Larry Breuer described the crime as "astonishing in scope." it is alleged that up to $2 million was offered to lawmakers that would vote in favor of the bill being proposed. The four senators that were indicted all voted in favor of the legislation, although other lawmakers voted against the bill and it failed to pass.

Two of the more prominent figures in the gambling debate are VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor and Country Crossings developer Ronnie Gilley. The two are both a part of the indictment. Lawyers for the two gambling establishments have already claimed their clients are innocent.

The upcoming election was setting up to be a moratorium on gambling in Alabama. Democratic candidate Ron Sparks has voiced his support for creating a regulated gambling industry in the state. That plan might now have to be put on hold after the indictment handed down this week. Lawmakers may become unwilling to attach their names to being in favor of gambling for fear of further inquiry and prosecution.

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