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Bentley weighs in on electronic bingo following AL high court ruling

Published: Apr. 6, 2016 at 9:52 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 14, 2016 at 10:12 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Gov. Robert Bentley sides with the Alabama Supreme Court that electronic bingo is illegal in Alabama. Bentley gave his stance on the matter in a recent letter, responding to an inquiry by U.S. Attorney George Beck.

Beck wrote Attorney General Luther Strange (response) and Bentley in a March 21 letter seeking to clarify the state's position on the issue. Native American gaming falls under federal oversight and has been a contentious issue with state casinos that feel the Poarch Band of Creek Indians are operating with their former machines, seized during state raids, along with slot machines.

Slot machines would be illegal in Native American gaming facilities, as the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, or IGRA, would only allow Class II Gaming in Alabama.

In the letter, Bentley reminds Beck that he disbanded the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling with his first executive order in office. This effort transferred the responsibilities to the AG's office which has been cited for using hundreds of thousands of dollars to prosecute electronic bingo despite the crime falling under a misdemeanor offense. The Attorney General maintains the electronic bingo machines are illegal slot machines.

The governor cited the Alabama Supreme Court's Cornerstone Rules to determine legal bingo in counties and jurisdictions with local bingo amendments. Victoryland attorneys defended the use of electronic bingo in a recent trial through testimony and evidence that expressed the voter intent at the time of its passage was that of electronic bingo, despite the amendment not using the word "electronic".

"It is the position of my office that we intend to observe and follow the law enunciated by the Supreme Court of Alabama," Bentley wrote. "Pursuant to my Executive Order Number 13, local law enforcement are charged with interpreting and applying Alabama law as applicable to any form of gaming or gambling in their respective county.  Thus, it is up to local law enforcement to interpret and apply Alabama law as outlined above to the specific facts presented."

On Monday, Victoryland owner Milton McGregor restated that his business was on the right side of the law, and would be opening with 1,000 people on the payroll this summer.

It is unclear what legal avenue Victoryland attorneys will pursue following the Alabama Supreme Court Ruling, however they must file for rehearing within 14
days the decision was handed down.

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