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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 2, February 2010, Posted On: 1/31/2010

Alabama Lawmakers Consider Bingo Machine Legalization

Marcus Webb
Alabama bingo machines, bingo parlors, amusement machine, gaming terminals, Bob Riley, Troy King, John Tyson, video gaming terminals, game operators

MONTGOMERY, AL -- Seeking to head off raids on bingo parlors and subsequent job losses, the Alabama House of Representatives is considering a bill that proposes to make electronic bingo games legal until next November. Supporters say during the Nov. 2 general election, citizens could also vote on the status of the controversial machines in a referendum on a constitutional amendment. No such amendment is yet on the ballot, however.

Passage of HB 1-54 would be a direct slap at Gov. Bob Riley, who has directed his Task Force on Illegal Gambling to seize all electronic bingo machines. Riley has stated his opinion many times that a November 2009 verdict by the state Supreme Court effectively outlawed all electronic bingo machines. Attorney General Troy King, numerous local officials, and much of the state's press have voiced sharp disagreement with Riley's interpretation of the high court ruling.

The bill would also prevent parlors from adding more electronic bingo games and freeze the number of bingo parlors at current levels. The House Tourism and Travel Committee approved the bill on Jan. 21.

On Jan. 25, Riley appointed a new taskforce director. District Attorney John Tyson (D-Mobile County) accepted the post, saying under his leadership the taskforce will continue to conduct vigorous criminal and civil investigations against bingo operators and venues.

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