Governor wants bingo ruling tossed

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -  In a move that is anything but surprising Governor Bob Riley asked the Alabama Supreme Court on Monday to throw out a ruling in the White Hall Gaming Center case.

The Governor's office contends that the judge, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Mark Kennedy, should have recused himself of the case immediately for his work for an Indian casino. Governor Riley and the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling also asked the Supreme Court for an immediate stay of Judge Kennedy's order until the Supreme Court has a chance to consider the appeal.

Kennedy's Saturday afternoon ruling ordered the state to return cash and gaming machines seized during the March 19 raid within five days. It also ordered the state not to interfere with the White Hall Gaming Center's operations until a final ruling in the case.

Governor Riley and the Task Force demanded Kennedy recuse himself from the case earlier because Kennedy at one time served as a project manager for the Wind Creek Casino in Atmore. The Governor's office believes the judge "may have continuing financial ties to the casino."

"The judge has an obvious conflict of interest," said Jeff Emerson, Communications Director for Governor Riley. "He has a business relationship with a casino and should never have issued any kind of ruling in this gambling case. We have asked the Supreme Court to recognize that and we're confident they will."

David Barber, commander of the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling, said the case to prove the White Hall facility was operating illegal slot machines will proceed.

"We've been down this road before," said Barber. "These are essentially the same machines that were declared illegal two years ago. Back then they called it a 'sweepstakes' machine. Now they're calling it 'bingo'. No matter what you call it, it's really a slot machine and we intend to prove just that."