Solution for Alabama Bingo Battle Rejected

Solution for Alabama Bingo Battle RejectedThe battle over electronic bingo in Alabama has lasted for years. The state government has consistently ignored the majority of Alabama residents that think the games should be legal. The state’s attorney general, Luther Strange, has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars to finance raids and frivolous court cases. Recently a state legislator suggested a sane solution to the ongoing bingo dispute. State Representative Pebblin Warren said that the state should allow VictoryLand and other non-tribal casinos to offer the same type of gambling machines that are played at the Poarch Band of Creek Indians casinos.

In early May the House Commerce and Small Business Committee held a public hearing about Pebblin’s proposal. The bill by Warren would allow Victoryland to offer games “programmed to play in the same manner as machines used by the Poarch Creek Indians.” During the hearing Warren told committee members that the issue was not about gambling to her. Warren told reporters “This is about fairness. This is about justice.” Warren said it is unfair for VictoryLand to be closed while the three tribal casinos are thriving by offering the same games that are banned at VictoryLand.

Warren said Macon County is suffering economically since the raids that put over 1,000 out of work in an area with high unemployment rates. Warren stated “I don’t think Macon County can survive another six months.” VictoryLand was one of the largest employers in the area. Gambling opponents said that criticized Warren’s bill as a solution to the state’s gambling debate and as a solution for Macon County’s economic problems. Joe Godfrey, executive director of the far right extremist group Alabama Citizens Action Program, stated “The bottom line is VictoryLand has no money. The money comes out of the pockets of losers.” Republican Richard Baughn claimed that gambling “sucked the life” out of his district.

VictoryLand opened last December and was raided in February. The attorney general wants the electronic bingo machines forfeited. State officials and anti-gambling extremists have argued that the machines are illegal and do not fit Alabama’s definition of bingo. Lawyers for VictoryLand say the machines play bingo and the lights and flashy displays are for entertainment. Charlanna W. Spencer, a lawyer for VictoryLand, told the committee “They are not slot machine.” Unfortunately Warren’s bill is dead until the next legislative session. Warren said she’ll be back next year and told reporters “You can be assured this bill is not dead. It will surface.”

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