Governor Riley's Task Force Issues Information from Mobile County

Information below from Governor Riley's Press Office:

Successful Task Force Operation in Mobile County Yields Illegal Slots, Servers

Action serves to preserve justice and equity under the law, Tyson says

MOBILE - On Thursday, an investigation by the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling determined that illegal slot machines were in play at a new casino in the Mobile County town of Chickasaw. That evening, John Tyson, Jr., Mobile County District Attorney and Commander of the Task Force, took action to close the facility and seize the illegal machines.

Authorities entered the building at approximately 7:00 p.m. and seized 25 devices that fit squarely within the definition of illegal slot machines under Alabama law. Managers of the facility cooperated with authorities and turned over to police computer servers and cash in use at the casino. This law enforcement operation was completed without incident and with the cooperation of Chickasaw police officers at the scene.

Tyson said the Task Force is working to make sure Alabama's laws against illegal gambling are equally and uniformly enforced. Municipalities and citizens alike must abide by the law, Tyson said, or else society would become disorderly and unfair.

"It simply would be unfair to allow one community to operate an illegal gambling facility while other municipalities - dozens of them - are faithfully obeying the law," Tyson said. "How can we ask some citizens to abide by the law while others blatantly and shamelessly defy it? How can we expect young people to understand and respect our laws if public officials endorse and promote lawless behavior?

"It's not fair to legitimate non-profits that operate actual charitable bingo if a few organizations are allowed to break the law by using illegal slot machines.  Those illegal operations siphon off a huge percentage of proceeds that otherwise would be going to legitimate, legal charities and other legal businesses."

The closure of this facility and the seizure of machines should reassure communities in Mobile County and throughout the state that crime will not be tolerated, Tyson said.

"The best way to deter criminal activity is to consistently and fairly enforce criminal law," he said. "There can't be special breaks for certain people. As sworn defenders and enforcers of the law, we simply cannot pick and choose who has to obey the law and who doesn't. Criminal behavior is, ultimately, an illegal advantage that benefits a few who are willing to risk breaking the law to earn a profit. We must ensure equality of opportunity for law-abiding citizens, businesses and communities with consistent, fair application of law.

"Any community that is being enticed by organized gambling to set up a casino or that is currently seeing these establishments crop up in their back yard would be wise to carefully read Alabama's law against slot machines and see just how clear it is. They would also be wise to know that we will enforce it."

Under Section 13A-12-27 of the Alabama Code of Laws, possession and operation of a gambling device, and specifically a slot machine, is illegal in Alabama. That statute states:

"(a) A person commits the crime of possession of a gambling device if with knowledge of the character thereof he manufactures, sells, transports, places or possesses, or conducts or negotiates any transaction affecting or designed to affect ownership, custody or use of:

(1) A slot machine; or             

(2) Any other gambling device, with the intention that it be used in the advancement of unlawful gambling activity.

 (b) Possession of a gambling device is a Class A misdemeanor."

A slot machine is defined by Section 13A-12-20(10) of the Alabama Code of Laws as a gambling device that accepts cash or credit and dispenses prizes based on a game of chance, not skill. This definition states:

"SLOT MACHINE. A device that, as a result of the insertion of a coin or other object, operates, either completely automatically or with the aid of some physical act by the player, in such a manner that, depending upon elements of chance, it may eject something of value. A device so constructed or readily adaptable or convertible to such use is no less a slot machine because it is not in working order or because some mechanical act of manipulation or repair is required to accomplish its adaptation, conversion or workability. Nor is it any less a slot machine because apart from its use or adaptability as such it may also sell or deliver something of value on a basis other than chance."