The Great Alabama Bingo War of 2010

The Great Bingo Wars of 2010? That may be how future historians refer to the turmoil caused by electronic bingo in the state of Alabama. In Alabama, bingo has been this year’s hottest political topic. On one side are anti gambling extremists led by Governor Riley and on the other side are the bingo and casino operators. The fight over gambling has even overshadowed Republican efforts to take over both houses in the state legislature. The fight against bingo and gambling in  general has spread from casino to courtrooms and the halls of the state Capitol. Currently a federal grand jury is deciding the fate of the gaming and bingo industry in Alabama.

In bingo news, the anti bingo fervor in the governor’s office has resulted in a series of raids that have shut down all non Indian owned casinos and bingo halls in the state. In Dothan Alabama two giant casinos, VictoryLand and Country Crossings succumbed to anti gambling extremism and closed their doors before the governor’s task force could conduct raids and confiscate the ‘illegal’ bingo machines. VictoryLand has about 7,000 bingo machines sitting idle at the present time. Thanks to Governor Riley’s policies Alabamans now spend their dollars at out of state casinos costing the state millions in much needed gambling revenue. As if that wasn’t bad enough the threatened raids have cost hundreds of casino workers, who are supporting families, their jobs.

Recent polls show that a vast majority of Alabama’s citizens oppose the raids by Riley’s anti gambling task force. One newspaper poll showed that 82.2% of those polled are against the raids and are in favor of bingo. Raids have also been conducted without search warrants showing a disregard of established law. Earlier in the year David Barber, the head of Alabama Governor Bob Riley’s Illegal Gambling Task Force was forced to resign after it was revealed that he won $2,000 dollars while gambling at an out of state Choctaw Indian Tribe casino in Mississippi. Many believe that Riley’s anti bingo stance is to protect the interests of the Choctaw tribe in Mississippi who spent $13 million dollars to help elect Riley in 2002. Although Riley has tried to convince voters his objections to bingo are moral the record speaks otherwise. Given the fact that churches throughout the United States routinely use bingo games to raise money for good causes (and even internet bingo and online bingo sites are raising money for charities), Riley’s moral objections to bingo ring hollow.

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