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Alabama AG Offers to Confiscate Bingo Machines

27 January 2011 by admin

Luther StrangeLuther Strange, the new state attorney general for the state of Alabama, is offering to help bingo operators by confiscating their machines…Yes, you read that right. In an attempt to clarify a legal dispute, Strange has offered to let the courts decide whether or not the bingo machines are legal.

Multiple bingo casinos have shut down due to raids or fear of raids by former governor Bob Riley’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling. That task force was shut down by an executive order by new governor Robert Bentley on January 18, with the existing gambling cases transferred to Attorney General Strange. Bentley has said that he’s not making the electronic bingo halls a point of emphasis, but he does expect Strange to enforce the law.

The operators of the shut-down casinos insist that they were not in violation of the law, saying that local constitutional amendments make their games legal. Therefore, they have asked the courts to prove whether or not their businesses are in violation of the law. The courts have responded that they cannot take up the case unless the electronic bingo machines in question are seized by the authorities.

AG Strange has told those casino operators that he is willing to let the courts decide on the legality of their businesses. Therefore, in a rather odd solution to a bizarre problem, Strange has offered to “assist” the operators by seizing some of their machines.

Yesterday, Strange informed the casino operators that he is willing to confiscate some of their machines in such a way that they would physically remain in the casino but could not be used. He would then file charges against the operators for running illegal machines. That would then allow the courts to take up the case. The prosecution could make the case that the machines are banned and the defense could make the case that the machines are perfectly legal. The judge would have the final say, though it would most likely end up being appealed, by either side, and eventually reach the Alabama Supreme Court.

luther-strange-not-troy-kingOf course, a solution that involves being charged with a crime involves a degree of risk, and one that the operators shouldn’t take lightly. This is probably the first time an attorney general has asked anyone if they wanted to be charged with a crime and have their business property confiscated.

At least one of the casino operators is considering the idea. According to Bloomberg, Doug Jones, an attorney for the closed Country Crossing casino, said that “we are open to any discussion that might bring this to a resolution short of the midnight Gestapo-type raids.” Jones said that his clients appreciate that Strange is willing to let the courts rule on the issue.

Strange indicated that if the casino operators agree to the deal, he would confiscate the machines quietly, rather than involving the much-disdained raids for which Riley’s task force was known. Strange has stated that he is of the opinion that the electronic bingo machines are illegal, but he does not anticipate future raids.

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