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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 3, March 2010, Posted On: 2/26/2010

Alabama Pro-Bingo Forces Run Into Roadblocks

Marcus Webb
electronic bingo machines, bingo machines in Alabama, coin-op games, coin-op news, amusement machines, Bob Riley, Lowell Barron

MONTGOMERY, AL -- Public work on a bill to legalize electronic bingo machines in 10 venues around Alabama was put on hold indefinitely this week, said Sen. Lowell Barron (D-8th Dist.), who chairs Alabama Senate's Rules Committee. Barron said he would not bring up the bill for a vote until supporters can guarantee 21 votes in favor, the minimum number required to pass.

Last week, the state Supreme Court blocked a scheduled hearing in a local district court on the case of Country Crossings, a resort that operates 1,700 electronic bingos. A resort spokesman said the decision "denies us our day in court" and turned Alabama into "a police state."

On Feb. 23, more than 1,000 bingo supporters shouted down Gov. Bob Riley, who has led the fight against electronic bingo, as he spoke to a rally on the steps of the Alabama Statehouse. The rally was organized by Citizens for a Better Alabama and religious groups that oppose electronic bingo. Protestors included laid-off workers from resorts with bingo operations, which have been shuttered because of Riley's aggressive policy toward bingo machines, which he claims are illegal. A large crowd of Riley supporters was also at the rally; the two sides got into a shouting match.

One high court justice was quoted in local press outlets as saying that Alabama's bingo controversy was about to become "a three ring circus."

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