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MONTGOMERY, AL -- Within 24 hours of taking his oath of office on Jan. 17, Alabama's new Gov. Robert Bentley kept his campaign promise and signed a "death warrant" for the widely reviled Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling.
The taskforce was the creation of Gov. Bob Riley, Bentley's predecessor. The organization sparked nationwide headlines -- and plenty of local controversies -- in 2009-10 with a series of predawn raids on electronic bingo venues, where police officers often charged in with guns drawn. | SEE STORY
Bentley's very first executive order dissolved the taskforce and turned over all of its pending cases to newly sworn Attorney General Luther Strange, who later said current prosecutions against casinos will continue uninterrupted.
Separately, Bentley said there probably would not be a citizen referendum this year on electronic bingo. Instead, his administration will wait until the courts issue verdicts in current cases.
Last fall, Bentley campaigned strongly in favor of such a referendum, saying Alabama citizens -- not courts or politicians -- should decide which forms of gambling would be permitted in the state.