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Strange Suggests Alabama Courts Should Decide Gambling Issue

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Former Alabama Governor Robert Riley created the Task Force on Illegal Gambling after he decided that electronic bingo machines were illegal in Alabama. With Riley now out of office, it appears the new powers in office will take a more diplomatic approach to gambling.

Shortly after Governor Robert Bentley took office, he turned the Task Force over to Attorney General Luther Strange, and the two soon decided to disband the Task Force. That game gambling hall owners in Alabama hope that they could soon reopen their facilities and put thousands of Alabamians back to work.

On Wednesday, AG Strange said he would be willing to turn the issue over to the Alabama courts. That is a sharp contrast from Riley, who believed his interpretation of the gambling law in Alabama was the only one that should be considered.

"Our position is that these are illegal slot machines and don't fit the definition of bingo," said Strange. "But we recognize they (casino owners) have a different position. We think we've got a procedure that would allow them to make their case in court."

Their day in court is all that the casino owners have been asking for in the past couple of years. The owners of Country Crossings and VictoryLand have been seeking a Supreme Court ruling on the machines, and now it looks as though they will receive their day in court.

Of course both owners will be in court for other reasons as well. The two owners were part of an indictment that came down last year, and they are accused of attempting to bribe lawmakers with cash in exchange for positive votes on a bill that would have allowed Alabama residents to decide the future of electronic bingo machines.

Strange does not anticipate that the casinos, which have been shut down for fear of raids from the Task Force, will reopen before their day in court. Strange also said he does not expect future raids, and he claims he will focus on other issues in the coming months.

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