Bingo rally draws both sides as governor speaks

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - An anti-casino rally on the Statehouse steps in Montgomery turned into a shouting match when casino supporters showed up.

About 1,000 people spread out in front of the Statehouse and the Capitol lawn across the street Tuesday. Casino opponents applauded Gov. Bob Riley as he addressed the group, while casino proponents chanted "let us vote."

Riley's remarks were difficult to hear over the opponents' shouting, but he said the law in Alabama is clear that electronic bingo machines are illegal slot machines. The governor also said casinos lead to more poverty rather than creating jobs.

The pro-casino group had been planning a 2 p.m. rally but was encouraged by organizers to show up early for the casino opponents' gathering.


Despite the dueling rallies on the issue at the Statehouse, electronic bingo legislation was not on the Alabama Senate's work agenda.

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Lowell Barron said Tuesday he did not put the bill on the Senate's work agenda for the day because talks are still going on. He said he has told supporters that he will put the bill on the Senate's work agenda when they assure him they have the 21 votes needed for passage.

The Senate convened Tuesday as casino opponents and proponents held rallies outside the Statehouse. One of the partners in the closed Country Crossing complex at Dothan, entertainer Darryl Worley, said he got involved because the project was providing good-paying jobs until it closed because of an attempted raid by the governor's gambling task force.

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