Sweet Home Alabam


Bingo in Alabama just gets more interesting every day; well, maybe not bingo, just something they chose to call bingo.  In Alabama they call slot machines bingo, because bingo is legal and slot machines are not legal.  The situation has been a long time developing,  at first no one seemed to paying attention as “bingo hall” after bingo hall opened, getting larger and more expensive as the process continued.  And in a depressed economy each quickly became important to its community by creating employment and putting cash into the local economy.  However, it seems that when VictoryLand added a 300-room hotel to its 6000 machines at the local dog track the governor took notice. He noticed slot machines and not employment and he created a special task-force to deal with the issue.

The governor’s task-force went on the attack, knocking the bingo halls – slot machine casinos – off one at a time.  The two sides trader barbs, met at stand-offs between the state police and gaming employees and of course fought in the courts – the court battles went back and forth, but in the end the state supreme court sided with the governor and his Eliot Ness boys; the casinos capitulated and all have closed.   The issue is very political and will certainly have a major impact on the fall elections; pro-gaming forces, including national figures like Jesse Jackson protesting above, are framing this as an employment and economic issue.  Opponents are framing it as a legal and moral issue.  In a good economy the moral issue would have won easily, but it is not so easy now.

Anyway the latest shot in the battle was fired today, 11 people, the owner of VictoryLand, several lobbyists and several state senators have been arrested on bribery and corruption charges.  The charges stem from attempts to pass legislation authorizing the gaming machines earlier this year.

There is a touch of irony it today’s arrests; the owner of VictoryLand has been calling out law enforcement for a couple of weeks.  He challenged them to arrest him for possessing illegal games – the state confiscated the games at some properties, but not at VictoryLand; he wanted the court to settle the legality of the games.  He got his wish, he was arrested, but the charges are not related to possessing anything except the money he was alleged to have been passing around to lawmakers.


1 Response to “Sweet Home Alabam”

  1. 1 Lynne Rosner October 4, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    I had to find out how long Mr Bob Riley has been in office…since 2002!

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