MONTGOMERY, AL - Governor-Elect Robert Bentley announced plans to assign the work of the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling to the Attorney General's Office when he and Attorney General-Elect Luther Strange take office. That is on January 17, 2011.
"By assigning all pending cases and investigative authority to the Attorney General's office, I have transferred the primary responsibility for ensuring that Alabama's gambling laws are enforced statewide to Attorney General-Elect Luther Strange," said Governor-Elect Bentley. "I will fully support Attorney General Luther Strange in his efforts to enforce the laws of Alabama, including laws against illegal gambling," Governor-Elect Bentley said. "Attorney General Strange will follow the law on gambling and he will have my full support."
In August Bentley said while on the campaign trail that he would not continue the Task Force and was quoted as saying, "I am just not going to continue the Governor's task force. But, having said that...I will enforce the law. And constitutional amendments have to be changed by a vote of the people."
Attorney General-Elect Luther Strange thanked Governor-Elect Bentley for his confidence and said the Attorney General's office will not back down from enforcing Alabama's gambling laws under his leadership.
"The people of Alabama have elected me to enforce the laws of this great state. I intend to enforce the rule of law as it is written and in strict accordance with the decisions of the Alabama Supreme Court," said Attorney General-Elect Strange.
Governor-Elect Bentley and Attorney General-Elect Strange said gambling establishments now closed under threat of raid by the Task Force should not mistake today's announcement as a signal to open their casinos. It simply means the Attorney General will be the officer at the statewide level taking primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting those that own, operate or house illegal gambling machines.
"I will work with the local District Attorneys who are willing to be a part of our team, " Attorney General-Elect Strange said.
The state's legal position for the enforcement of Alabama's prohibition of slot machines as it relates to so-called "electronic bingo" will continue to be as follows according to Bentley:
1. Any machine that meets the definition of a slot machine or gambling device pursuant to Sections 13A-12-20 (5) and (10) of the Code of Alabama (1975) will be seized, gambling proceeds will be seized, forfeiture actions will be pursued; and any persons who are in the possession of illegal slot machines or who are promoting illegal gambling will be prosecuted, period.
2. Absolutely no constitutional amendment in the State of Alabama authorizes the use of machines that accept cash or credit and then dispense cash value prizes based upon chance. Machines with those features are slot machines and are not made legal by any bingo amendment. Likewise, no local bingo rule, regulation or ordinance can legally authorize slot machines.
3. The six factors defining bingo laid out by the Alabama Supreme Court in the Cornerstone case will be applied strictly. Those factors cannot be changed, diluted, waived, redefined or reinterpreted by local rule, local regulation, or local definitions, nor through purported certifications from a gaming laboratory.
4. The Attorney General's office will provide guidance to prosecutors after the transition, but the operators of gambling establishments throughout our state should clearly understand the legal position of the State of Alabama moving forward beginning on January 17, 2011.
GOVERNOR RILEY COMMENDS DECISION
Governor Bob Riley, who has just weeks left in office, commended Governor-elect Bentley for his announced plans to assign the work of the Task Force on Illegal Gambling to the Attorney General's Office.
Riley said the move sends a strong message that laws against slot-machine gambling will continue to be enforced after the Riley Administration leaves office, the Governor said.
"I commend Governor-elect Bentley for his decision to assign the work of the Task Force to the Attorney General's Office," Governor Riley said. "I also applaud Attorney General-elect Luther Strange for his commitment to ensuring Alabama law is enforced equally and as it is written in all 67 counties. The list of legal principles spelled out in the joint statement is solid, unadulterated law, and it is completely consistent with the view that the Task Force and I have taken over the last two years. The gambling bosses who had hoped that Alabama's new elected officials would allow them to break the law must be sorely disappointed today," the governor said.