Country Crossing reopens after attempted raid

DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - Business is back to normal for the Country Crossing resort in Dothan after the center won an emergency court-order barring the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling from performing a raid.

Early Wednesday morning a judge signed a restraining order, effectively calling off the impending raid. If the seizure had taken place more than 1,700 machines at the Houston County Entertainment Complex would now be in state custody.

Word spread quickly about the planned raid, and plenty of people showed up to do what they could to protect their jobs and to stop the raid.

"If you want to enhance economic growth and economic development, why don't you stay at home for a while," asked Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley of Governor Riley. "Why don't you come down here to Houston County, Alabama and let us show you our economic development project. You don't have to spend all of our tax dollars going to Australia or China or Japan or where ever else there is you're going or Pasadena, California for that matter."

Governor Riley isn't happy with the situation either.

"This kind of behavior from public officials evokes memories of rampant public corruption and crime that accompanied the proliferation of illegal gambling in Phenix City in the 1950's," said Riley's spokesman, Todd Stacy. "The obstruction of law enforcement that took place in Houston County this morning should be a wake-up call to the people of this state. Governor Riley will not tolerate criminal activity from anyone, no matter how powerful or politically connected they may be."

Attorney General Troy King had a different reaction when contacted about the situation. "The Governor is apparently acting on a decision of the Alabama Supreme Court that is not yet final," he said, "and which contrary to his public statements, does not say that all electronic bingo machines are illegal." King said he can only offer his advice to the governor, but he has no way to force him to take that advice.

The governor and attorney general have a history of differences on the legality of electronic bingo, even though both are conservative republicans and AG King was appointed to his position by Governor Riley.

King visited and inspected machines at some gaming facilities several years ago, and he determined they were legal. Riley says the machines are nothing more than slot machines in disguise.

Riley got an earful from at least a few people by way of his personal cell phone Wednesday. Someone emailed the number to Country Crossing supporters, who then called Riley while he's in California. The governor said he received around 30 phone calls and even returned some. He said the incident was no big deal.

A January 20, 2010 hearing is set for this case.
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