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									                                                                                                                              september 2, 2010 / the AlAbAmA bAptist / pAge 5




                                        For-profit, big business
                                        Macon County touted as lead dog in ‘electronic bingo’ race in state
                                        By Sondra Washington
                                        the Alabama baptist



                                        M
                                                    acon County was not first in Ala-
                                                    bama to pass a constitutional
                                                    amendment allowing bingo gam-
                                        bling. Actually it was dead last.
                                           But once the amendment was voted into
                                        law Nov. 4, 2003, it changed bingo as most
                                        Alabamians knew it and created a for-profit
                                        Las Vegas-style gambling business that many
                                        have tried to imitate around the state.

  A glimpse of
                                           Now the county’s sole casino, VictoryLand
                                        in Shorter, is fighting to keep its empire in-
                                        tact while Gov. Bob Riley and his Task Force

  VictoryLand                           on Illegal Gambling are closing in ready to
                                        issue the business a final death blow.
                                           Initially Alabama House Bill (HB) 660,
                      Dog racing        which would become Macon County’s bin-
                      was legalized     go amendment, was introduced to legislators
                      in Macon,         in 2003 looking almost identical to the 17
                      Greene,           other laws allowing charitable bingo across
                      Jefferson         the state.
                      and Mobile           Gambling opponents and supporters
                      counties in       worked together to make the bill suitable for                                                                  Photo courtesy of Montgomery Advertiser
                      the 1970s.        both sides. But in what some gambling op-        state’s largest Casino — Milton McGregor’s ‘electronic bingo’ casino on the bot-
                                        ponents call a “sneaky” last-minute move,        tom floor of VictoryLand now sits behind plywood after the entrance points were boarded
 VictoryLand                            the bill’s sponsor, former Rep. Johnny Ford,     up Aug. 9 following a threatened raid by the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling.
     was built                          of Tuskegee, submitted a new bill. Only a
   in Shorter                           few words were changed, yet the bill legal-      was the same bill. … Before it could be giv-          “IGT is one of the sponsors of the mayor’s
    in Macon                            ized a new form of electronic gambling in        en to anyone to look at, they voted on it and      conference (an event in Las Vegas Ford had
   County in                            the state (see Birmingham News article from      passed it. Then,within minutes, we found out       attended previously as mayor of Tuskegee),”
        1984.                           2003 for more on the bill, page 7).              it was a different bill.”                          he said. “Jerome Young (who supplied video
                                           “We were doing it like traditional types                                                         machines at VictoryLand at that time) was in
                                        of bingo where you operated it on your own       Connecting the dots                                charge of minority affairs and had a session
                       Birmingham       premises … not paying rent for the prem-             “I am the representative who wrote and         at the conference.
                       had live horse   ises, not paying anybody a consulting fee to     originated HB 660 (which passed the state             “He had a conference on gaming and how
                       racing 1987–     run the game, not paying anybody any ex-         Legislature on June 11, 2003), the bill that       it impacted communities,” Ford said, noting
                       1992, but all    penses and limited on the amount of prizes       actually brought electronic bingo to Ala-          it was Young and Chuck Brook of IGT who
                       tracks have      that could be paid,” Birmingham attorney         bama,” Ford told The Alabama Baptist dur-          were at the IGT booth in San Francisco.
                       simulcast        Eric Johnston said. “Those were three things     ing the 2010 legislative session.                     While Ford said he first saw the “bingo
                       horse, dog       taken out by Ford, and he told everyone it           “The original intent was just to satisfy the   machine” the month after the the Macon
                       racing.                                                                                     senior citizens, but     County bingo legislation passed, he had
                                                                                                                   at the same time, I      been involved with the company and one its
      While video                                                                                                  realized VictoryLand     representatives prior to the legislation pass-
   poker/gambling                                                                                                  was on the verge of      ing.
     machines first                                                                                                closing and losing          “I’m responsible for changing the gaming
      appeared in                                                                                                  jobs,” he said.          industry in Alabama forever,” Ford said.
Alabama in the late                                                                                                   “The bill I intro-
  1990s, electronic                                                                                                duced said bingo         New level of gambling
 gambling came to                                                                                                  could be played in          The bill allowed nonprofit organizations
      VictoryLand                                                                                                  any form,” Ford ex-      to let other businesses operate the games on
           in 2003.                                                                                                plained. “I did my       their behalf and pay consulting fees for ser-
                                                                                                                   due diligence.”          vices related to the games’ operation. It also
                                                                                                                      While representing    did not specify what legislative body was
                      The Oasis                                                                                    Alabama at an event      responsible for setting cash or prize limits
                      hotel was                                                                                    in San Francisco in      associated with the games.
                      built as                                                                                     July 2003, Ford said        Johnston said these changes to bingo op-
                      part of the                                                                                  IGT (International       erations took the state’s gambling business
                      new casino                                                                                   Game Technology)         to the next level.
                      atmosphere                                           Photo courtesy of Montgomery Advertiser introduced him to           “Because of the bill that Johnny Ford got
                      in late 2009.     just the traCk now — Milton McGregor, owner of Victory- the machines being                          passed, they didn’t have any limitations on
                                        Land, talks to the media Aug. 13, when the Shorter facility reopened labeled          electronic    it,” he said. “VictoryLand … had a big facility
                                        after closing to shut down the ‘electronic bingo’ section.                 bingo.                                  (See ‘Battle,’ page 7)
Page 6 / The alabama baPTisT / sePTember 2, 2010
                                                                            Gambling in Alabama


Recent debates over gambling ignore                                                                                                         Significant moves
original purpose of bingo in state
By Sondra Washington                                                                        was being considered that this would
                                                                                                                                           related to gambling
                                                                                                                                           1901
                                                                                                                                              Article IV, Section 65 of the Alabama Constitution
and Jennifer Davis Rash                                                                     happen. They didn’t listen.                    of 1901 prohibits games of chance in the state. Be-
The alabama baptist                                                                            “I argued then that if the gambling         cause of this constitutional provision, the Legislature


B
         ingo may be considered a big-                                                      interests got their foot in the door, there    cannot simply pass laws that permit types of gam-
         money game in Alabama today,                                                       would be outright gambling, and that’s         bling. All legal gambling is allowed only by addi-
         but it didn’t start out that way.                                                  what we’ve got today,” Ireland said. “It       tional constitutional amendments. Also based on this
Experts say when legislators began pass-                                                    was just a gateway to what we’re facing        constitutional provision, the Legislature passed the
ing constitutional amendment bills al-                                                      right now.”                                    provisions of the Alabama Criminal Code that make
lowing the charitable games in 1980,                                                           Some state senators and representa-         gambling a crime.
most Alabamians believed they were                                                          tives fighting for legislation to legalize
voting for traditional paper bingo not the                                                  the electronic slot-type gambling being        1971
so-called electronic bingo being housed                                                     labeled electronic bingo admit the gam-          Pari-mutuel wagering at dog and horse tracks was
in Las Vegas-style casinos that have                                                        bling interests are using the constitu-        found constitutional in Opinion of the Justices, 251
tried to open across the state.                                                             tional amendments permitting bingo in          So.2d 741. The Alabama Supreme Court said while
   While state law prohibits the elec-                                                      certain areas to expand gambling in the        Section 65 of the constitution prevents the Legisla-
tronic slot-type machines that have been                                                    state. (For a list of places where bingo is    ture from authorizing a lottery, it does not prevent
introduced to and pulled from numerous                                                      legal, see story this page.)                   the Legislature from authorizing forms of gambling
communities at one time or another over                                                        And operations managers at some of          that do not constitute a lottery. There is a significant
the past seven years, the Poarch Band of                                                    the casino-style facilities that were open     degree of skill involved in dog and horse racing and
Creek Indians currently has three casinos                                                   earlier this year told The Alabama Bap-        therefore it is constitutional.
in Alabama because federal regulations
and laws allow them. (An explanation of
                                                      Traditional                           tist that the tiny digital bingo card tucked
                                                                                            in the corner of the machine’s screen is       1980
how gambling on reservation land func-                paper bingo                           only there “because we have to have that          Bingo has always been considered a game of
tions will be part of this series in an up-                                                 to be legal.”                                  chance. In Act 80-431, Amendment 386 to the consti-
coming issue.)                                                                                 They said the spinning symbols are          tution, Jefferson County became the first county to
   Still VictoryLand in Macon County          Constitution’s prohibition on lotteries.      what matters. “The bingo card is just          authorize limited charitable bingo.
became the first non-Indian and largest          “The gambling interests have taken         there because we have to have that in
casino in the state when more than 6,000      this narrow exception and tried to drive      Alabama.”                                      1980–2004
machines were added to the already-ex-        an armored truck through it by using the         But outgoing Attorney General Troy             Since that time, there have been 17 additional con-
isting facility housing one of Alabama’s      names and entities of certain charities       King contends the machines really are          stitutional amendments that permit bingo in one form
four legal dog tracks. It recently shut       and introducing slot machines that they       playing bingo — at least in some areas         or another in various counties and municipalities in
down its electronic “bingo” operation to      claim are only playing bingo,” Falls said.    of the state.                                  Alabama.
avoid being raided (see story, page 5).       “However, bingo has nothing to do with           “The game is playing bingo, but the            1980 — Madison County
Wind Creek Casino & Hotel, located on         the machines they are using and they are      look of the slot machine is just a façade,”       1982 — Montgomery County
the Poarch Creek Indian reservation in        in violation of the law because they are      he said, noting people want slots, so it is       1984 — Mobile County
Atmore, is currently the largest casino       establishing for-profit businesses instead    just to give them what they want.                 1990 — Etowah County
operating in the state with more than         of charitable bingo operations.”                                                                1990 — Calhoun County
1,600 machines.                                  Legal bingo operations must be run         What constitutes bingo?                           1992 — St. Clair County
   But no matter which one has the most       by a charity, he explained. “They have to        King — who researched the machines             1993 — Walker County
machines or the glitziest facility, large-    do it on their own premises or property       at VictoryLand, Greenetrack in Greene             1993 — City of Jasper
scale bingo operations were never meant       that is rented by them. They cannot pay       County and the three facilities run by            1995 — Covington County
for enterprise, said Jefferson County Dis-    anyone to operate the game on their be-       the Poarch Creeks in 2004 — found the             1996 — Houston County
trict Attorney Brandon Falls.                 half, and all of the money has to go to the   machines in those five operations legal           1996 — Morgan County
                                              charity. They can’t pay employees and         under Alabama law.                                1996 — Russell County
‘Narrow exception’                            they can’t run it like a business.”              “(These) are machines with bells and           2000 — Lowdnes County
   “It is supposed to be a way for chari-        This description doesn’t seem to match     whistles but with a bingo card in the cor-        2000 — Limestone County
ties to raise money,” he said. “There were    any of the current operations garnering       ner,” he said. “When you put money in             2002 — Town of White Hall
organizations — churches, senior cen-         endless headlines and generating court        the machine, bingo balls start falling.”          2003 — Greene County
ters, etc. — that were already operating      cases.                                           Experts who work for slot machine              2004 — Macon County (passed Legislature in 2003)
bingo games, and they didn’t want to be          But Dan Ireland, executive director        manufacturing companies disagreed. Dur-
                                                                                                                                           1990s
in violation of the law. So they went to      emeritus of Alabama Citizens Action           ing several electronic “bingo” court cas-
                                                                                                                                             Numerous efforts took place to expand gambling
the Legislature and asked them to pass        Program, isn’t surprised. He warned leg-      es in the state, they said electronic bingo    through various types of legislation, such as video
this narrow exception to the Alabama          islators when the first bingo amendment                (See ‘Machines,’ page 7)              poker. These efforts failed.
                                                                                                                                           2003
                                                                                                                                              As a result of developing electronic technology
                                                                                                                                           that increased the potential for bingo gambling,
                                                                                                                                           bingo-related bills began to be introduced in the Leg-
                                                                                                                                           islature. Act 2003-124 (Amendment 744 for Macon
                                                                                                                                           County) was the major bill that passed (ratified in
                                                                                                                                           2004).
                                                                                                                                           2004
                                                                                                                                              There continued to be a question about what is
                                                                                                                                           a game of skill and what is a game of chance since
                                                                                                                                           Section 65 forbids games of chance. In Ex Parte
                                                                                                                                           Ted’s Game Enterprises v. Ted’s Game Enterprises,
                                                                                                                                           893 So.2d 376, the Alabama Supreme Court held that
                                                                                                                                           if chance is the dominant factor, then it is a prohib-
                                                                                                                                           ited game of chance. The court noted the history of
                                                                                                                                           Alabama was to make broad prohibition of games of
                                                                                                                                           chance and specifically noted that “bingo” was such a
                                                                                                                                           game that needed to be excepted from Section 65 by
                                                                                                                                           additional constitutional amendments.
                                                      Las Vegas                                 Style of machines
    Electronic Bingo                                                                         being called electronic                            Timeline provided by attorney Eric Johnston
                                                    Slot Machines                               bingo in Alabama                           with additional reporting by The Alabama Baptist
                                                                                                                                                september 2, 2010 / the AlAbAmA bAptist / pAge 7
                                                                            Gambling in Alabama


Battle of the wills
federal court proves Victoryland charitable
giving ‘negligible,’ but locals oK with crumbs
            (continued from page 5)                 in their jurisdiction. With only five police of-
already … so they pushed everything to the ficers at the time, she said VictoryLand was
limit from the number of machines to what a facility “greater than we can maintain and
they were doing. They were using more so- cover.” She added, “We are trying to main-
phisticated machines — slot machines — and tain all of this coming into our town. We need
others began to follow suit. … They set the money to take care of the people that we have
standard so to speak.”                              been elected to take care of.”
   Dan Ireland, who served as executive di-            Fearing a task force raid, VictoryLand vol-
rector of Alabama Citizens Action Program untarily closed its doors Aug. 9 even though
during that time, agreed and called Victory- McGregor reportedly maintains his machines
Land’s setup “major league” compared to are legal bingo machines. He blames Riley
other “sandlot”-type gambling operations for intruding in county business.
around the state.                                      “Consider the fact the constitutional amend-
   “The only thing about it is that it went in ment that authorized charity bingo in Macon
under the guise of being charity bingo, and County went through the Alabama Legisla-                                                                                                Photo by Jennifer Davis Rash
the charity part is almost                                              ture, was pre-cleared by the    lobbying for expanded gambling — Johnny Ford, former mayor and for-
negligible,” Ireland said.                                              Department of Justice and       mer state representative of Tuskegee, tells reporters Feb. 11 at the Alabama State-
“From all I have read, the          for additional                      approved by 76 percent of       house that the VictoryLand casino is a good thing for the people of Macon County.
biggest part of the money is        reporting on the                    voters in Macon County,”
going to the (dog) track and                                            McGregor told the Tuskeg-       tial until the high court releases its opinions.     system. The court is conducting an internal
not to charity or for the ben-      ‘electronic bingo’                  ee News. “Yet after seven          As rumors circulated suggesting improper          investigation of the source or sources of such
efit of county functions.”          debate in alabama                   years of operation, Riley       communications between the court and Ri-             unauthorized disclosure or disclosures.”
   Recently a federal court         as well as other                    with his signature vetoes       ley’s office, the justices responded with a            Retired Supreme Court Justice J. Gorman
ruling found that Victory-          gambling-related                    all of those actions at the     news release denying the accusations.                Houston Jr. is leading the investigation.
Land and owner Milton                                                   expense of Macon County            “Information concerning the assignment              Meanwhile a plywood wall now separates
McGregor “profited” more            articles, visit                     and the state. Nothing like     of cases to members of this court and the            VictoryLand’s gambling machines from its
than $162 million in 2008           www.tinyurl.com/                    that has ever happened in       anticipated date of release of such cases is         pari-mutuel dog and horse racing business.
but gave less than 1 percent        electronicbingo.                    the history of this state.      highly confidential,” the release stated. “Any       The task force said if the electronic games
of that to charities. Still                                             His actions (resulting in the   unauthorized disclosure of such information          are reopened to expect a raid of the facility.
county and charity leaders                                              shutting down of the ‘elec-     is detrimental to the integrity of the judicial                  (Jennifer Davis Rash contributed)
have expressed satisfac-                                                tronic bingo’ operation at
tion with the amount they                                               VictoryLand) have cost
received, according to a                                                thousands of jobs and mil-                            — Article from The Birmingham News Nov. 7, 2003 —
Tuskegee News article.
   And some claim their
                                                                        lions of dollars in taxes.”
                                                                           Riley and his team say
organizations’ existence depends on Victory- the machines are illegal slots and McGregor
Land.                                               knows it.
                                                                                                           Bingo amendment surprises lawmakers
                                                                                                           By Bob Johnson                                       VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor
   John Anderson, chair of Macon County’s              “These attacks are just another example of          the Associated press                              said if a charity or nonprofit group picks his


                                                                                                           T
Share and Care Committee, which provides the contemptible lies the gambling interests                              o the surprise of some legislators,       track as a site for the games, it could pump
free food to the needy, reportedly said, “The regurgitate over and over again,” Riley said.                        the amendment approved by Macon           new life into his track, which he said has
$25,000 we get as our share for charity bingo “It truly is despicable.”                                            County voters Tuesday will allow          struggled to keep up with American Indian
is basically our entire budget.” Others had            Jeff Emerson, Riley’s communications di-            bingo games to be played at the Victory-          gaming centers in Wetumpka and Mont-
similar stories since VictoryLand also gives rector, agreed.                                               Land dog track and other venues with un-          gomery. He said bingo could mean as many
money to “nine volunteer fire departments,             “If One-Percent McGregor really, hon-               limited pots.                                     as 100 new jobs at the track in Shorter,
several schools, nutrition centers, Tuskegee- estly believed his slot machines were legal,                    Players could win “a million dollars,”         about 20 miles east of Montgomery.
Macon County Head Start and the Tuskegee he would keep his casino open,” Emerson                           said Rep. Johnny Ford, R-Tuskegee, who               “This is the best thing to happen to Ma-
Area Chamber of Commerce.” According to said. “Then he could argue his side in a court                     pushed the proposed bingo law through             con County since 1982, when VictoryLand
the article, taxes from VictoryLand provide of law, but that’s the last thing One-Percent                  the House. The amendment Macon County             was approved,” McGregor said. He said
more than one-third of the county’s budget.         McGregor wants because he knows his slot               residents voted on was not the one many           that besides pumping money into local
                                                    machines are illegal. … The Alabama Su-                legislators thought they had passed.              charities, it would help VictoryLand by
Additional services needed                          preme Court has ruled unanimously, mem-                   In fact, at one point the Alabama House        increasing the amount of tax revenue the
   But some question whether that is enough bers of both parties, and has been very clear.                 rejected the version with no limits on the        track pays the county.
money to cover the additional services needed … One-Percent McGregor tells people the                      winning pots. But Ford said Thursday he
as a result of the increased traffic, social prob- opposite because he wants to continue break-            used a little “clever maneuvering” to sub-        Unlimited purses
lems and other issues arising from a gambling ing the law.”                                                stitute his version before the bill received         He said the unlimited purses would make
facility the size of VictoryLand. In 2009,             During the war of words between Vic-                final passage. He said he did it to pump          it easier for the track to compete with the
Shorter Mayor Willie Mae Powell’s plea to toryLand’s supporters and opponents, the                         money and jobs into his mostly black and          Indian casinos, which offer unlimited cash
Alabama legislators indicated it is not.            Alabama Supreme Court even came under                  low-income county.                                payouts.
   While Powell said she supported a bill le- fire when a Montgomery newspaper printed                        “You see our county has been treated un-          “I’m not opposed to Indians. I’m op-
galizing VictoryLand’s gambling activities, an article correctly detailing a forthcoming                   fairly down through the years,” Ford said.        posed to being treated differently. They pay
she asked state lawmakers to consider allow- ruling on VictoryLand, which included the                     “It is necessary to use whatever political        no city or county or state taxes,” McGregor
ing “host municipalities” to tax the facilities author’s name. This information is confiden-               maneuver I could to get our people the right      said.
                                                                                                           to vote.”                                            Rep. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery,
machines look like, act like slots                                                                            Voters in Greene County also passed a
                                                                                                           bill Tuesday that legalized bingo games,
                                                                                                           which could be held at the GreeneTrack
                                                                                                                                                             said he did not like the way the bill was
                                                                                                                                                             handled by Ford. He said he felt that many
                                                                                                                                                             legislators did not know the bill allowed
            (continued from page 6)                 legal, King explained. The hard part is know-
does exist but not in the form found in Ala-        ing which ones are adaptable and which ones            dog track. It was originally introduced with      unlimited purses until after it had passed.
bama.                                               aren’t, he said. “There are machines that are          an unlimited pot, but lawmakers amended              “Frankly it was a cheap trick. I hope it
   Electronic bingo is still the game of bingo      legal and some that are illegal.”                      it on the last day of the session to limit pots   was worth it to Ford and to the people who
in how it looks and is played; it is just on a         And while King has maintained his stance on         for one bingo session to $10,000.                 operate dog tracks,” Brewbaker said. “The
computer monitor rather than paper, the ex-         the legality of electronic “bingo” in Alabama,            Under both the Macon and Greene Coun-          next time they have legislation, nobody is
perts said. The machines in Alabama are slot        questions still remain over what bingo, in an          ty bills, the bingo revenues have to be for       going to believe a word they tell them.”
machines with a small bingo card icon added         ever-changing world of technology, looks like          a nonprofit organization, but the nonprofit          Ford got the unlimited pot version passed
through the software, they noted.                   and whether Alabamians have forgotten the              could contract with VictoryLand to operate        with the help in the Senate from Sen. My-
   But as long as the machines cannot be con-       real reason bingo was legalized in some areas          the games.                                        ron Penn, D-Union Springs.
verted into true slot machines, then they are       in the first place.
Page 8 / The alabama baPTisT / sePTember 2, 2010
                                                                            Gambling in Alabama


Macon County remains in ‘economic misery’
By Sondra Washington                       ey to pay for those jobs out of the

                                                                                       Charity contributions from VictoryLand
The alabama baptist                        economy.”


O
         ne million dollars may seem          In a recent Montgomery Adver-
         like a lot of money until you tiser guest opinion article, U.S.
         realize it’s less than 1 per- Rep. Artur Davis commented on gu-
cent of what you could have had. It bernatorial candidate Ron Sparks’
also doesn’t help to know hundreds plans to use legalized and expanded
                                                                                                        Gross Profits                      Gross receiPts                         Money to charity
of millions of dollars have entered gambling in Alabama to create jobs
a repressed county, yet very little and revenue and the state of Macon                  2004            $49,902,963                        $64,070,688                            $546,350
changes have been made to the sur- and Greene counties.                                                                                                                           (0.9% of gross receipts)
roundings.                                                     “Ron      Sparks’
   This was the re-                                         strategy is straight-
ality facing Macon             People living                forward and it just         2005            $89,148,794                        $112,693,949                           $978,250
County residents                                            isn’t good enough:                                                                                                    (0.9% of gross receipts)
when a June 30 below poverty level he would extend
federal court ruling        in Macon County: the footprint that                         2006            $110,936,378                       $139,853,391                           $797,650
revealed Victory-                                           the casino operators
                                                                                                                                                                                  (0.6% of gross receipts)
Land’s      “sizable”       1999 — 26.8 percent             hold in Greene and
gambling       profits      2003 — 26 percent               Macon counties to
and       “marginal”                                        communities       all       2007            $126,706,748                       $157,498,710                           $797,650
charitable giving           2004 — 28.3 percent             over the state,” Da-                                                                                                  (0.5% of gross receipts)
(see sidebar).              2005 — 32 percent               vis wrote in a Mont-
   Although county                                          gomery Advertiser
and charity leaders         2006 — 30.2 percent             guest opinion ar-           2008            $125,860,684                       $162,571,464                           $1,300,026
receiving donations         2007 — 29.6 percent             ticle. “The problem                         (estimated)                                                               (0.8% of gross receipts)
from the multimil-          2008 — 30.5 percent             is that even with
lion dollar casino                                          the casinos, Greene
have continued de-          Source: U.S. Census Bureau      and Macon are still         totaL           $503 million                       $637 million                           $4.4 million (0.7%)
fending its practic-                                        impoverished and
es, some people are                                         are centers of the
asking why the county has changed worst examples of economic misery.                   Note: Gross receipts refers to money collected by the casino, minus money paid out to winners. Gross profits is the amount the
so little in the seven years Victo- As recent reports documented, the                  casino has after paying winners and paying lease fees for the bingo machines but before operating expenses have been paid.
ryLand has operated its slot-style ‘mandatory’ charitable donations                    Source: Federal court ruling/The Birmingham News July 21, 2010
gambling machines in Shorter.              from the casinos to these counties
   For years, gambling opponents are woefully inadequate.”
have speculated about how much                Davis’ claims are reinforced by       when VictoryLand dodged a raid by               Yet actions by McGregor and Ma-            They’ve paid an economic price,
money Alabama casinos generate U.S. Census Bureau statistics, which                 voluntarily closing down its elec-           con County Sheriff David Warren to            losing jobs and exporting billions
and how much of it was being re- reveal a poverty rate far higher than              tronic gambling section, McGregor            keep another casino from opening              of dollars from local economies.
invested into the areas housing the the state’s poverty level, both before          said the “system of government in            in the county — which could have              They’ve paid a social price, seeing
casinos. But when the federal court and after slot machine gambling be-             our state has broken down.”                  provided additional taxes and jobs            crime rates skyrocket. They’ve paid
studied financial records from the gan in both counties.                               “To (Gov.) Bob Riley, you should          — are what led to the federal case
state’s largest casino, the specula-          Milton McGregor, VictoryLand’s                                                                                                   a political price, too, as powerful,
                                                                                    be ashamed of yourself for putting           revealing VictoryLand’s donation              organized gambling bosses have
tors’ fears were confirmed.                owner, maintains his business pro-                                                    history.
   “The gambling doesn’t make it vides millions of dollars in taxes,                Alabamians out of work in these ter-                                                       taken a stranglehold on govern-
                                                                                    rible economic times and you should             Todd Stacy, Riley’s press secre-
(Macon County) a better place to much-needed jobs and critical ser-                                                              tary, said, “The evidence is irrefut-         ments. Gov. Riley doesn’t want to
live,” said Birmingham attorney vices in Macon County and the                       be ashamed of the senseless suffer-                                                        see any of that happen in Alabama.
                                                                                                                                 able. Casinos are a drain on local
Eric Johnston. “It gives a few jobs state.                                          ing and damage you are causing in                                                             “Building casinos for economic
                                                                                                                                 and state economies. They squeeze
to a few people but takes the mon-            In a press release issued Aug. 9      Macon County,” McGregor said.                money out of communities and send             development is like someone quit-
                                                                                                                                 it to out-of-state gambling bosses.           ting their job to play the lottery,” he
                                                                                                                                 Places that have legalized casino             said.
   Amendment 744 ratified (2004)                                                                                                 gambling have paid a high price.                 “You’re just going to lose.”

   Relating to bingo games in Macon County                                                                                       Notes of interest dealing with
   T    he operation of bingo
        games for prizes or money
   by nonprofit organizations for
                                                                                    or concessions on behalf of
                                                                                    the nonprofit organization. A
                                                                                    nonprofit organization may                   Milton McGregor, VictoryLand
                                            To find the constitutional
   charitable, educational, or other                                                pay consulting fees to any in-
   lawful purposes shall be legal
   in Macon County. The sher-
                                            amendments dealing with
                                            bingo in the 16 counties and
                                                                                    dividual or entity for any ser-
                                                                                    vices performed in relation to
                                                                                                                                 C    ircuit Judge Tom Young con-
                                                                                                                                      tinually has passed restraining
                                                                                                                                 orders against the Govenor’s Task
                                                                                                                                                                               T    he electronic gambling section
                                                                                                                                                                                    of VictoryLand is referred to as
                                                                                                                                                                               Quincy’s Triple Seven Bingo Ca-
   iff shall promulgate rules and           two cities in Alabama, visit            the operation or conduct of a                Force on Illegal Gambling, refus-             sino and was open 24 hours a day,
   regulations for the licensing            http://law.justia.com/alabama/          bingo game.                                  ing to follow the Supreme Court’s             seven days a week until McGregor
   and operation of bingo games             constitution/index.html                   5. A nonprofit organization                earlier orders clearing the way for           voluntarily closed the casino sec-
   within the county. The sheriff           and search for the area plus            may lend its name or allow its               the task force to raid VictoryLand.           tion down Aug. 9.
   shall insure compliance pursu-           the phrase “bingo amendment”            identity to be used by another
   ant to any rule or regulation and                                                person or entity in the operat-
   the following requirements:
      1. No person under the age
                                            (Ex.: Macon County bingo
                                            amendment).
                                                                                    ing or advertising of a bingo
                                                                                    game in which the nonprofit
                                                                                                                                 V    ictoryLand owner Milton
                                                                                                                                      McGregor also owns the Bir-
                                                                                                                                 mingham Race Course. His prima-
                                                                                                                                                                               A     lcoholic beverages were avail-
                                                                                                                                                                                     able at VictoryLand until ear-
                                                                                                                                                                               lier this year when the task force
   of 19 years shall be permitted                                                   organization is not directly                 ry office is located in Montgomery,           threatened to raid the facility. If no
   to play any game or games of                                                     and solely operating the bingo               where he lives. He is a member of             alcohol is sold, Alcoholic Bever-
   bingo, nor shall any person                                                      game.                                        Frazer Memorial United Methodist              age Control Board officers have no
   under the age of 19 years be           suance of the permit or license.            6. Prizes given by any non-                Church, Montgomery.                           reason to enter the facility.
   permitted to conduct or assist            3. Bingo games may be oper-            profit organization for the
   in the operation of any game of        ated on the premises owned or             playing of bingo games shall
   bingo.                                 leased by the nonprofit organiza-         not exceed the cash amount or
      2. No bingo license shall be        tion operating the bingo game.            gifts of equivalent value set by
   issued to any nonprofit organi-           4. A nonprofit organization            rule or regulation during any
   zation, unless the organization        may enter into a contract with any        bingo session during any cal-
   shall have been in existence for       individual, firm, association, or         endar week.
   at least three years in the coun-      corporation to have the individu-
   ty immediately prior to the is-        al or entity operate bingo games                  Source: www.justia.com
                                                                                                                                september 9, 2010 / the AlAbAmA bAptist / pAge 5




                                          State says no slot-type ‘bingo’
                                          Greene, Macon county leaders claim civil rights violations
                                          By Sondra Washington
                                          the Alabama baptist



                                          C
                                                   ombine 31 pro-gambling Greene and
                                                   Macon County leaders with three
                                                   well-known Alabama civil rights at-
                                          torneys — Edward Still, James U. Blacksher
                                          and Fred D. Gray — and what do you get? A
                                          lawsuit accusing Gov. Bob Riley and Mobile
                                          County District Attorney John Tyson of vot-
                                          ing rights violations and intimidation tactics
                                          likened to those used by the Ku Klux Klan.

  ‘Bingo’ in
                                             Since Riley and his Task Force on Illegal
                                          Gambling, led by Tyson, began raiding fa-
                                          cilities operating slot machines being called

Greene County                             electronic bingo, several Greene and Macon
                                          County legislators have accused them of
                                          civil rights violations. While the legislators
1978                                      claim the task force has targeted facilities in
   Greenetrack built in Eutaw in 1978.    predominantly black areas, Riley maintains
Live greyhound racing took place for      that it has applied the same pressure to other
a few years, but now the track only       casinos around the state including those in
has simulcast greyhound and horse         Houston, Jefferson, Lowndes, Madison and
racing.                                   Mobile counties.
                                             On July 29, Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-
                                          Greensboro; Rep. A.J. McCampbell, D-
Sept. 26, 2003                            Linden; several Greene and Macon County
   The Legislature unanimously pass-      commissioners; and other concerned citizens
es Senate Bill 9, authorizing a consti-   filed a lawsuit in federal court against Riley
tutional amendment allowing charity       and Tyson — as individuals and in their of-
bingo in Greene County.                   ficial capacities — claiming violations of the
                                          Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Ku Klux Klan
Nov. 4, 2003                              Act of 1985.
   The Greene County constitutional
amendment passes in the general elec-     Debate over voting rights
tion.                                        In the complaint, Riley and Tyson are ac-
                                          cused of implementing “policies and prac-
                                          tices that effectively nullify the votes of the
June 11, 2004                             electoral majorities in Greene and Macon
  The Greene County bingo amend-          counties who approved local amendments to
ment is ratified.                         the Alabama Constitution establishing lawful
                                          regimes in their respective counties for elec-
Dec. 1, 2004                              tronic bingo operations.”
  Attorney General Troy King issues          Riley and Tyson also are accused of send-
a news release stating the machines       ing “large numbers of state troopers on the
being labeled electronic bingo are le-    highways and premises of the residents of
gal in Greene County, Macon County        Greene and Macon counties for the purpose
and the three facilities run by the Po-   of threatening and intimidating,” which the                                                                                              File photo
arch Band of Creek Indians.               plaintiffs say violates the Klan Act. The act
                                          “makes it unlawful for ‘two or more persons       case) as a last-ditch effort to block the state   tiffs should “be ashamed of themselves.”
2004–2008                                 in any state or territory (to) conspire or go     from enforcing its gambling laws.”                   “I think it is an absolute shame that they
  The machines evolved into slot          in disguise on the highway or on the prem-                                                          would confuse the high ideals embodied
                                          ises of another, for the purpose of depriving,    ‘Shielding illegal gambling’                      in those statutes with slot machine bingo
machine-style gambling.
                                          either directly or indirectly, any person or         Since the task force has applied its law       games,” he said.
                                          class of persons of the equal protection of the   enforcement powers against other casinos             Still the plaintiffs believe Riley and the
July 1, 2010                              laws.’”                                           across the state, the governor’s team said,       task force “have caused, and are continuing
  Greenetrack had more than 1,500            Riley’s legal team filed a motion to dismiss   “Plaintiffs are insulting the letter and the      to cause, grievous and irreparable harm to the
machines when it was raided by the        the case Aug. 27, calling the lawsuit “frivo-     spirit of (the) nation’s most important civil     citizens of those counties” by “shutting down
Governor’s Task Force on Illegal          lous.”                                            rights laws by invoking them to shield illegal    the bingo operations in Greene and Macon
Gambling.                                    “It (the case) has nothing to do with vot-     gambling. Plaintiffs are not really alleging,     counties.”
                                          ing rights and everything to do with moneyed      and cannot possibly allege, that the governor        But Birmingham attorney Eric Johnston
                Timeline compiled by      interests’ attempts to flout Alabama’s laws       and commander (of the task force) have vio-       said, “Nobody’s rights have been disenfran-
                The Alabama Baptist       prohibiting gambling,” the response stated.       lated their right to vote.”                       chised.
                                          “They (the plaintiffs) are bringing it (the          Tyson told The Alabama Baptist the plain-                    (See ‘Case,’ page 6)
Page 6 / The alabama baPTisT / sePTember 9, 2010
                                                                          Gambling in Alabama




                                                                                                                                                                                             File photo
                                                                                                     all bets oN — Pari-mutuel wagering, like seen here at Greenetrack’s simulcasting grey-
                                                                 Photo courtesy of Tuscaloosa News   hound and horse racing, was found constitutional by the Alabama Supreme Court in 1971.


Case could be a
move to distract
           (continued from page 5)
   “Every bit of this is to try to call at-
tention away from the illegal gambling
going on,” he said. “The main thing is
they are trying to delay [the case] long
enough to get to the inauguration in Janu-
ary because then the task force will end
because (Ron) Sparks supports legalized
gambling and (Robert) Bentley said he
would dissolve the task force if he be-
came governor.”
   Johnston believes the plaintiffs have
built a “fragile legal structure in an effort
to delay justice in Alabama.”
   “Every single one of them (the plain-
tiffs) has an interest in seeing gambling
continue,” he added.
   “The commissioners want the employ-
ment from gambling, claiming that peo-
ple need jobs and they need money for
the community. But they are part of the
political machine that wants to perpetuate
gambling even though it’s slot machine
gambling that violates our criminal law.
… I think they know that this lawsuit is
so fragile and so tenuous that once there
is an opportunity to address it on the mer-                                                                                                                            Photo courtesy of Tuscaloosa News
its, it will get thrown out.”                   rallyiNG the Crowd — Greenetrack owner Luther ‘Nat’ Winn prepares for a press conference following the July raid.


Notes of interest dealing with gambling at Greenetrack
V     ictoryLand in Macon County formation shows Greene County’s
      may not have been the only unemployment rate nearly doubled
                                                                               rate was nearly double Alabama’s.        Greenetrack claiming that its elec-
                                                                                                                        tronic bingo casino owed it more
                                                                                                                                                                proceeds from Greenetrack was to
                                                                                                                                                                go to Greene County schools, 20
casino skimping on
its charitable giving.
Numerous reports             People living
                                                    from 2008 to 2009
                                                    while Greenetrack’s
                                                    casino operations
                                                                               G     reenetrack, which opened in
                                                                                     Eutaw in 1978, eventually
                                                                               earned the reputation of having a
                                                                                                                        than $72 million in unpaid taxes.
                                                                                                                           Also that year, individuals filed
                                                                                                                        lawsuits against Greenetrack claim-
                                                                                                                                                                percent to the county’s volunteer
                                                                                                                                                                fire departments, 20 percent for the
                                                                                                                                                                county’s E911 system, 10 percent
reveal Greenetrack      below poverty level flourished.                        “killing fields” track until animal      ing authorities rigged its electronic   to county law enforcement and 10
also did little to help                                The      county’s
its host county.         in Greene County: poverty level is not                rights groups removed injured            gambling machines to pay out
                                                                                                                        $20,000 to former Birmingham
                                                                                                                                                                percent to Greene County Hospital,
                                                                                                                                                                county parks and recreation.
                                                                               greyhounds from its kennels in
   According to a        2003 — 25.1 percent        much different now                                                  Mayor Larry Langford. A similar
                                                                               1998.
July 18 Birmingham       2004 — 26.5 percent        than it was before
News article, less
than $2 million of
                         2005 — 33.9 percent
                         2006 — 33.2 percent
                                                    the casino moved
                                                    in. During each year
                                                                               P   aul Bryant Jr., son of legendary
                                                                                   Alabama football coach Paul
                                                                                                                        suit was filed against VictoryLand
                                                                                                                        that Langford received the same
                                                                                                                        “benefit.”
                                                                                                                                                                A     ccording to The Birmingham
                                                                                                                                                                      News, Greene County is the
                                                                                                                                                                state’s least-populated county.
the estimated $100       2007 — 33.2 percent        of    Greenetrack’s
million Greenetrack      2008 — 30.3 percent        electronic gambling        “Bear” Bryant, was Greenetrack’s                                                 The Census Bureau’s 2000 Demo-
made annually over
the past six years
                         Source: U.S. Census Bureau
                                                    operation, Greene
                                                    County’s poverty
                                                                               chief investor before withdrawing
                                                                               from the business and moving his
                                                                               money to a track in Texas.
                                                                                                                        W    hen Greene County vot-
                                                                                                                             ers passed a constitutional
                                                                                                                        amendement in 2004, The Birming-
                                                                                                                                                                graphic Profile gives the popula-
                                                                                                                                                                tion as 9,974.
                                                                                                                                                                   The black population is predomi-
from slot machine-                                  level never dropped
style gambling was given to chari- below 25 percent while the state’s                                                   ham News reported that Greene           nant with 8,013 people.
ties each year. Plus Alabama De- poverty level stayed in the teens.
partment of Industrial Relations in- At times, the county’s poverty            I   n 2009, the Alabama Department
                                                                                   of Revenue filed tax liens against
                                                                                                                        County Commissioner Donald
                                                                                                                        Means said 40 percent of the bingo
                                                                                                                                                                    (Compiled from news articles, U.S.
                                                                                                                                                                          Census information by TAB)
                                                                                                                                               september 9, 2010 / the AlAbAmA bAptist / pAge 7
                                                                              Gambling in Alabama


Illegal slots?
greenetrack owner, greene County leaders
claim electronic devices are legal bingo
By Sondra Washington                                 to the unanimous vote by the Alabama Sen-
the Alabama baptist                                  ate and House of Representatives in 2003. “It


G
          ambling is big business in Greene          was not intended to be slot machine gambling.
          County, and its supporters have fought     That is totally made up by their lawyers.”
          tooth and nail to protect it. When Gov.       Dan Ireland, who served as executive direc-
Bob Riley and his Task Force on Illegal Gam-         tor of Alabama Citizens Action Program dur-
bling began cracking down on businesses with         ing that time, said citizens believed they were
slot machine-style gambling across Alabama,          allowing traditional paper bingo when they
county leaders organized marches and even            voted on the amendment in 2004.
threatened violence to prevent state law en-            “At that time, nothing was ever said about
forcement officials from shutting down their         bingo machines,” he noted. “They (voters)
cash cow.                                            were led to believe that it was just going to be
   Still state agents raided the area’s sole gam-    charity bingo.”
bling business, Greenetrack in Eutaw, on July           Former Sen. Charles Steele, D-Tuscaloosa,
1, removing about 900 devices they consider          who sponsored Senate Bill 9, which became                                                                               Photo courtesy of Tuscaloosa News
illegal slot machines. So area leaders are con-      Greene County’s bingo amendment, could not          big business — A Greenetrack employee demonstrates how the electronic gambling
tinuing their fight in the state and federal court   be reached by press time.                           machines work. On July 1, Gov. Bob Riley’s task force removed about 900 devices.
system (see story, page 5).                             Johnston said including the words “electron-
                                                     ic marking machine” do not somehow legalize         chines used in the facility prior to the raid.    technologically advanced form of bingo — but
‘Electronic marking machine’                         the use of slot machines.                           Greenetrack owner Luther “Nat” Winn did not       bingo nonetheless.”
   Gambling supporters argue that Greene                “An electronic marking machine is no differ-     return repeated calls by press time.                 Johnston also believes gambling proliferated
County’s constitutional amendment, which             ent than a dauber or marker you hold in your           However, Johnston believes the use of slot     in Greene County and other parts of the state
allows bingo on an “electronic marking ma-           hand,” he said. “You physically mark your           machines being called electronic bingo ex-        because officials in those areas are “integrally
chine,” permits any form of bingo gambling           cards electronically. The machine doesn’t do        panded after Attorney General Troy King is-       involved with the gamblers” and “have an in-
county leaders deem acceptable. But the ma-          it for you. … It allows you to put your bingo       sued a news release in 2004 stating that the      terest in seeing gambling continue.”
chines do not align with the state Supreme           cards on a screen, and you look at them just as     kind of machines operated at Greenetrack and         “The (county) commissioners want the em-
Court’s November 2009 ruling of what legal           if they were paper cards lying in front of you.     VictoryLand in Shorter were legal.                ployment from gambling,” he said. “They are
bingo is (see The Alabama Baptist, Dec. 10)          When they drop the ball or call out the number,                                                       part of the political machine there that wants to
and opponents say the county’s amendment is          you physically mark that particular square, and     ‘Can still be bingo’                              perpetuate gambling even though it’s slot ma-
not much different from the 17 other laws al-        you do it electronically on the screen in front        “It cannot be concluded, as some have, that    chine gambling that violates our criminal law.
lowing the games of chance in Alabama.               of you rather than on the piece of paper in front   just because the game is being played on video    It’s just like Phenix City (where illegal gam-
   According to Birmingham attorney Eric             of you. … You still can only play the number        consoles, it is not ‘bingo,’” King wrote. “Just   bling led to widespread criminal activity). ...
Johnston, the amendments allowing bingo              of cards that you can mentally and physically       as no one would contend that e-mails are any      Wherever big-time gambling is going on, the
“are traditionally written to allow limited char-    keep up with. The machine is not marking the        less a form of correspondence than are letters    city fathers want it. … You’re either with the
ity bingo.”                                          squares through a process that you are not in-      written with a quill pen but instead represent    gamblers or you are not a part of leadership in
   “If it (Greene County’s amendment) were           volved in. … That’s what was intended.”             a technological evolution in correspondence,      the community.”
something other than that, we would have op-            Gambling experts are not certain when            similarly bingo games that are depicted on a         Greene County commissioners and legisla-
posed it in the Legislature,” he said, referring     Greenetrack began operating the type of ma-         video console can still be bingo — albeit a       tors could not be reached by press time.


Amendment 743 ratified                                                                                   (2004)

Relating to bingo games in greene County
F    or purposes of this amendment,
     the following words have the
following meanings:
                                                                                    or regulations and all of the follow-
                                                                                    ing:
                                                                                       (1) No person under the age of 19
                                                                                                                             or advertising of a bingo game in
                                                                                                                             which the nonprofit organization is
                                                                                                                             not directly and solely operating the
                                                                                                                                                                      not advertise bingo except to the
                                                                                                                                                                      extent and in the manner authorized
                                                                                                                                                                      by rule of the sheriff. If the sheriff
                                             To find the constitutional
   1. Bingo. That specific kind of                                                  years shall be permitted to play any     bingo game.                              allows a nonprofit organization to
                                             amendments dealing with                                                            (5) All equipment shall be            advertise bingo, the nonprofit or-
game commonly known as bingo in                                                     game or games of bingo, nor shall
which prizes are awarded on the ba-          bingo in 16 counties and two           any person under the age of 19 years     stamped or clearly marked in letters     ganization shall indicate in the ad-
sis of designated numbers or sym-            cities in Alabama, visit               be permitted to conduct or assist in     no less than one-half inch in height     vertisement the purposes for which
bols on a card or electronic marking         http://law.justia.com/alabama/         the operation of any game of bingo.      and one-fourth inch in width (ex-        the net proceeds will be used by the
machine conforming to numbers or             constitution/index.html                   (2) Bingo games shall be operated     cept for the letter “I”) with the name   nonprofit organization.
symbols selected at random.                                                         exclusively on the premises owned        of the nonprofit organization using         (8) A nonprofit organization shall
                                             and search for the area plus
   2. Equipment. The receptacle and                                                 or leased by the nonprofit organiza-     the equipment. A nonprofit organi-       display its bingo license conspicu-
                                             the phrase “bingo amendment”                                                    zation or other person or entity may     ously at the location where the bin-
numbered objects drawn from it, the                                                 tion operating the bingo game. Such
                                             (Ex.: Greene County bingo                                                       not use equipment marked with the        go game is conducted.
master board upon which such ob-                                                    location shall be specified in the ap-
jects are placed as drawn, the cards         amendment).                            plication of the nonprofit organiza-     name of another nonprofit organiza-         (9) The sheriff shall determine
or sheets bearing numbers or other                                                  tion.                                    tion.                                    by regulation the days of operation
designations to be covered and the                                                     (3) A nonprofit organization may         (6) Prizes given by any nonprofit     during any calendar week and the
objects used to cover them or elec-                                                 not enter into any contract with any     organization for the playing of bingo    hours of operation.
tronic card marking machines, and         of having been classified as a tax ex-    individual, firm, association, or cor-   games shall not exceed ten thousand         A violation of this amendment is
                                                                                                                             dollars ($10,000) in cash or gifts of    a Class A misdemeanor as specified
the board or signs, however oper-         empt nonprofit organization by the        poration to have the individual or
                                                                                                                             equivalent value during any bingo        by general law.
ated, used to announce or display         Internal Revenue Service, United          entity operate bingo games or con-
                                                                                                                             session.
the numbers or designations as they       States Government. This term in-          cessions on behalf of the nonprofit         (7) A nonprofit organization may                  Source: www.justia.com
are drawn.                                cludes a volunteer fire department        organization. A nonprofit organiza-
   3. Nonprofit organization. A           and a volunteer rescue squad.             tion may not pay consulting fees
bona fide religious, educational,            Bingo games for prizes or money        to any individual or entity for any
service, senior citizens’, fraternal,     may be operated by a nonprofit or-        services performed in relation to
or veterans’ organization which op-       ganization in Greene County. The          the operation or conduct of a bingo
erates without profit to its members      sheriff shall promulgate rules and        game.
and which either has been in exis-        regulations for the licensing, permit-       (4) A nonprofit organization may
tence continuously as such an orga-       ting, and operation of bingo games        not lend its name or allow its iden-
nization for a period of three years      within the county. The sheriff shall      tity to be used by another person or
or is exempt from taxation by virtue      insure compliance with such rules         entity in the operating, promoting,
Page 4 / The alabama baPTisT / sePTember 16, 2010




                                             Connecting the dots
                                             Investigation of lawmakers’ links to gambling industry continues
                                             By Sondra Washington

                                                                                                       Corruption hurts ‘democracy, security’
                                             The alabama baptist



                                             S
                                                     ince it began six years ago, slot machine-
                                                     style gambling has weaved a tangled
                                                     web across Alabama, linking some of
                                             the state’s biggest power players with public
                                             officials at various levels of state government.
                                                                                                       T    he FBI calls public corruption one of its
                                                                                                            “top investigative priorities behind only
                                                                                                       terrorism, espionage and cyber crimes.” It
                                                                                                                                                         “just about everywhere — at the federal,
                                                                                                                                                         state and local levels throughout the coun-
                                                                                                                                                         try.”
                                             Most of these connections lie below the sur-              believes public corruption impacts “our de-          “I should point out the vast majority of
                                             face. But an ongoing FBI Mobile and Depart-               mocracy and national security” and “takes         our country’s public officials are honest
                                             ment of Justice investigation threatens to un-            a significant toll on our pocketbooks … si-       and work hard to improve the lives of the
                                             cover inappropriate relationships and public              phoning off tax dollars.”                         American people,” he noted. “But a small
                                             corruption at the Alabama Statehouse.                        Special Agent Patrick Bohrer, assistant        number make decisions for the wrong rea-
        In the state                            Initially media reports linked the federal in-
                                             vestigation to a March 30 Alabama Senate vote
                                             to legalize and expand gambling. Supporters
                                                                                                       section chief of the public corruption/civil
                                                                                                       rights program at FBI headquarters in Wash-
                                                                                                                                                         sons — usually to line their own pockets or
                                                                                                                                                         those of friends and family.”

          Senate:
                                                                                                       ington, said on the FBI website, “Corrupt            Bohrer said the FBI has numerous ways
                                             of the bill did not have enough votes to pass
                                             it, but when three senators — Bobby Denton,               public officials undermine our country’s na-      to investigate allegations of corruption.
                                             D-Muscle Shoals; Jim Preuitt, R-Talladega;                tional security, our overall safety, the public      “Our lawful use of sophisticated investi-
     Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, has                                                                  trust and confidence in the U.S. government,      gative tools and methods — like undercov-
                                             and Larry Means, D-Attalla — changed their
   been a loyal supporter of expanding                                                                 wasting billions of dollars along the way.        er operations, court-authorized electronic
                                             votes, it passed. Lacking the necessary votes,
   gambling and sponsored numerous           the bill died in the House of Representatives             This corruption can tarnish virtually every       surveillance and informants — often gives
   bills toward that effort in past years.   around the same time the investigation was                aspect of society. For example, … corrupt         us a front-row seat to witness the actual
                                             announced April 1. Soon a parade of Republi-              state legislators could cast deciding votes       exchange of bribe money or a backroom
     Sen. Zeb Little, D-Cullman, sup-        can and Democrat legislators began testifying             on a bill providing funding or other benefits     handshake that seals an illegal deal … and
   ported the 2009 major “bingo” bill,       before a grand jury about their involvement or            to a company for the wrong reasons.”              enough evidence to send the culprits to
   saying the state code “does not say       experience with illegal gambling being called                Bohrer added that corruption is found          prison.”                               (TAB)
   no gambling; it says no lotteries.”       electronic bingo.
                                                Although negotiations made and actions
     Sen. Myron Penn, D-Union                taken during this year’s legislative session may          While he is unsure if the FBI investigation       would have ended a long time ago,” Beason
   Springs, sponsored a bill in 2008         have affected the case, at least one senator be-       began after he spoke with the authorities or if it   noted.
   that would have prevented electronic      lieves the investigation is much broader than          was already under way, he said, “They weren’t           A source told The Alabama Baptist electron-
   gambling machines in Macon Coun-          many think.                                            necessarily surprised when I talked to them.”        ic surveillance was involved in the FBI’s inves-
   ty from ever being confiscated or                                                                   The FBI would not comment on the status           tigations because they informed certain people
   declared illegal if it had passed.        A wide net                                             of the public corruption investigation, but Mo-      that some of their conversations concerning
                                                “I think it’s a larger thing than just bingo this   bile Media Coordinator Douglas Astralaga said        gambling had been taped. The source also said
     Sen. Jim Preuitt, R-Talladega,          year,” said Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale.           typically when the bureau investigates cases,        letters are normally sent to people targeted in
   was one of three state senators to        “This whole investigation has to do with how           it turns them in to the U.S. attorney’s office,      federal investigations but it is uncertain if any
   change his no vote to a yes vote on       things are run overall. I think it’s a large wide-     which determines whether to “further develop         of the politicians or lobbyists interviewed by
   gambling in March (see story, this        spread investigation. I don’t think it’s as point-     cases through the FBI through subpoenas,             the grand jury has admitted receiving any such
   page). Preuitt, who switched to the       ed and focused as some people believe.”                grand juries or whatever technique is neces-         letter.
   Republican party in April, formally          Beason thinks the investigation goes back to        sary. (Then), if the case is indicted, it goes to
   withdrew from his reelection bid          at least 2009, when he told “authorities” about        court and follows the court’s deadlines.” As-        Subpoenas issued
   Sept. 1.                                  an inappropriate conversation he had with a            tralaga added that the time frame “fluctuates           Investigators may have collected further
                                             lobbyist.                                              depending on the complexity of the case and          evidence for the case. In July, The Birming-
                                                “Some other things happened,” Beason add-           attorney and court schedules.”                       ham News reported that “federal prosecutors
      Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Mont-             ed. “All of it together made me uneasy about              Nevertheless Beason said he believes indict-
   gomery, sponsored legislation in                                                                                                                      probing gambling legislation have subpoenaed
                                             what might be going on. That’s when I talked           ments will be handed down in this case.              the state pay stubs for nearly one-fourth of the
   2009 that called for a constitutional     to the authorities.”                                      “If there was nothing there, the investigation
   amendment establishing a “bingo                                                                                                                       Alabama Legislature, Attorney General Troy
   monopoly” and iron-clad electronic                                                                                                                    King and other public officials.” The story stat-
                                                                                                                                                         ed, “The public officials for whom prosecutors
                                                                        Bedford sponsors this year’s ‘bingo’ bill
   gambling operations in eight coun-
   ties and one town around the state.                                                                                                                   have sought pay records are not necessarily
                                                                                                                                                         targets of the criminal investigation; some are
     Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma,
   sponsored a bill in 2009 proposing
                                                                        S    en. Roger Bedford, D-Rus-
                                                                             sellville, typically stayed in
                                                                        the background when it came to
                                                                                                               counterparts from North Ala-
                                                                                                               bama in the House — Marcel
                                                                                                               Black and Johnny Mack Mor-
                                                                                                                                                         known to be cooperating with investigators,
                                                                                                                                                         and several already have appeared before a
                                                                                                                                                         grand jury.”
   a compact between the State of Ala-                                  legislative attempts to expand         row — in an endorsement of                   The Justice Department would not confirm
   bama and the Poarch Creek Indians.                                   gambling. That is until 2010.          gambling legislation by sponsor-          or deny any information about the investigation,
                                                                           “I felt like it was time to end     ing Senate Bill 380.                      including whether it is still pursuing the case.
     Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greens-                                    this controversy,” he said, refer-        This bill sought to do several            If any Alabama officials are indicted in this
   boro, sponsored bills in 2008 and                                    ring to the constant debate over       things including change the defi-         case, then they could face serious charges in-
   2009 to specifically expand gambling                                 gambling in Alabama.                   nition of bingo to include games          cluding bribery, extortion, embezzlement,
   in Greene County.                            bedford
                                                                           Bedford decided to join his         played on slot machines. (TAB)            racketeering, kickbacks and money launder-
                                                                                                                                                         ing, according to the FBI’s website.
                                                                                                                                                september 16, 2010 / the AlAbAmA bAptist / pAge 5




    Comments from various
Alabama legislators after the
  federal investigation began
Sen. Tom Butler, D-Madison                (in April), voted no on the bingo

I  t (the investigation) seems to
   be focused on the lobbying ef-
fort more than the legislative per-
                                          bill that passed the Senate on
                                          March 30.”
                                                   Source: The Birmingham News
spective. Did any lobbyists make
any inappropriate offers? Obvi-           Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne
ously, my vote was no and stayed
no from day-one.”
           Source: The Huntsville Times
                                          T    here were some political
                                               offers that were made that
                                          there could possibly be a revenue
                                          stream provided to help with the
Rep. Mac Gipson, R-Prattville             coastal insurance problem (in

G     ipson said he did not know
      anything firsthand. He has
not been offered anything and has
                                          Mobile County) if I supported the
                                          bill.” When Pittman was asked
                                          who made that offer to him, he
not seen anything inappropriate.          said, “They were other legisla-
He said he did not know why he            tors. I’m opposed to bingo, so I
was included in the investigation.        told them I wasn’t willing to ne-
   “I have been a no vote on that         gotiate.” After speaking to the
particular issue from the get-go          grand jury, he said, “They are try-
because I didn’t like the legisla-        ing to determine if anything im-
tion. It wasn’t a good straight up        proper happened in terms of what                                                                                                            Photo by Jennifer Davis Rash
or down vote.”                            people may have been offered for          Seeking Support — Rep. Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia, addresses the House Tourism and Travel Commit-
        Source: Montgomery Advertiser     their vote.”                              tee and others about this year’s main ‘bingo’ bill Jan. 20 in the House chamber. Black sponsored the bill which
                                              Source: Montgomery Advertiser video
                                                                                    sought to ‘retroactively and prospectively’ exempt gambling operations statewide from ‘liability for state and
Rep. Steve French,                                                                  local sales taxes.’ Black has sponsored several gambling-related bills during his years in the Legislature.
R-Birmingham                              Sen. Ben Brooks, R-Mobile

P                                         T
                                                                                    House members reverse trend,
     rior to the gambling vote, cer-           hey want to know what
     tain offers were made to me               went on behind the scenes
that I thought were inappropriate.        and I’m going to tell them. …
I called the authorities and shared       I heard a few things that con-

                                                                                    push Senate to take lead this year
this information. An investigation        cerned me and I’m going to tell
has clearly resulted and I continue       the jury.” According to the AP
to freely cooperate with authori-         News, Brooks said “he told the
ties and share any information I          grand jurors he felt intimidated
have.”
         Source: The Birmingham News
                                          by a full-page negative ad aimed
                                          at him that was run by bingo bill
                                          supporters in the Mobile Press-
                                                                                    T     he House of Representatives
                                                                                          typically spends very little time
                                                                                    debating the “blessed” gambling
                                                                                                                               it out of committee without seeing
                                                                                                                               the final version, noting they would
                                                                                                                               hammer out the
                                                                                                                                                                         fighting for legalized gambling in
                                                                                                                                                                         their areas.
                                                                                                                                                                                                Rep.       Pebblin
Rep. Barry Mask, R-Wetumpka               Register before the vote in the           bill for the year.                         details in de-                                                Warren, D-Tuskeg-

I  ’m just sad for Alabama. … I
   believe the people deserve bet-
ter.”
                                          Senate.” He said, “I told them
                                          nobody offered anything for my
                                          vote, but I took that ad as an at-
                                                                                       But then when those bills don’t
                                                                                    pass the Senate, it is the House mem-
                                                                                    bers who take the heat from constitu-
                                                                                                                               bate.
                                                                                                                                  The bill would
                                                                                                                               have legalized        Anti-gambling
                                                                                                                                                                                             ee Institute, asked
                                                                                                                                                                                             that legislators and
                                                                                                                                                                                             others not in coun-
   “I think there has been a lot          tempt to scare me.”                       ents.                                      slot machines at                                              ties with casino
of inappropriate things going on
since the inception of this bill.
                                                  Source: Montgomery Advertiser
                                                             video and AP News
                                                                                       So House members decided that
                                                                                    would not be the case during this
                                                                                                                               VictoryLand in
                                                                                                                               Macon County,
                                                                                                                                                        Sunday                               gambling options
                                                                                                                                                                                             to let the ones “of
It’s a sad day for Alabama. … I
just didn’t go to (House Tourism          Rep. David Grimes,
                                                                                    year’s session because 2010 is an
                                                                                    election year.
                                                                                                                               Greenetrack in
                                                                                                                               Greene County,
                                                                                                                               Country Cross-
                                                                                                                                                      is Sept. 19                            us who are” handle
                                                                                                                                                                                             this legislation.
                                                                                                                                                                                                Black, the bill
and Travel) committee meetings            R-Montgomery                                 They refused to vote on this year’s
because it’s just become a rubber
stamp for every gambling bill and
liquor bill. … It ought to be called
                                          A    taped conversation between
                                               VictoryLand Owner Mil-
                                          ton McGregor and Lobbyist Bob
                                                                                    main bill — House Bill (HB) 507,
                                                                                    sponsored by Rep. Marcel Black, D-
                                                                                    Tuscumbia, and Rep. John Knight,
                                                                                                                               ing in Houston
                                                                                                                               County,        the
                                                                                                                               Birmingham Race Course, the Mo-
                                                                                                                                                                                             sponsor, happened
                                                                                                                                                                                             to be one of the leg-
                                                                                                                                                                         islators not in an area lobbying for
Gambling and Liquor because               Geddie was played before the              D-Montgomery — until                                bile Greyhound Park, two         gambling.
that’s everything that’s in there.        grand jury. According to The              senators could come to                              locations in White Hall in           Rep. James Thomas, D-Selma,
So, there’s no need for me to go.         Associated Press, McGregor and            an agreement on their                               Lowndes County, one addi-        said he was tired of people preach-
I’ve been doing it for three and a        Geddie discussed how Grimes’              bill.                                               tional location in Jefferson     ing to him.
half years and just been beating          vote seemed to be “wavering.”                Rep. Johnny Mack                                 County and two yet-to-be-            “I’m not championing either side,
my head. … I think there is go-                      Source: The Associated Press   Morrow, D-Red Bay,                                  announced locations in north     but somebody’s got to do some-
ing to be a ... cry next year to get                                                chairs the House Tour-                              Alabama.                         thing,” he said. “Don’t preach to me.
rid of this once and for all. (He         Rep. Benjamin Lewis, R-Dothan             ism and Travel Commit-                                 The bill became a hotly       I’ll take my chances before the al-
expects indictments.) The state
deserves better.”
    Source: Montgomery Advertiser video
                                          H    e said “someone communi-
                                               cated with him concerning
                                          legislation to authorize and regu-
                                                                                    tee. He typically helps
                                                                                    gambling bills move out
                                                                                    of committee smoothly
                                                                                                                                        debated topic throughout
                                                                                                                                        the legislative session but
                                                                                                                                        did not have enough votes
                                                                                                                                                                         mighty God.”
                                                                                                                                                                             Thomas has fought for and pro-
                                                                                                                                                                         tected the White Hall electronic
                                          late bingo in a way he felt was           and easily “because this Morrow                     to pass the House, so Black      gambling facility for several years.
Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville           inappropriate. He said, “I felt I         issue is too important for                          chose to pull the bill instead       Rep. A.J. McCampbell, D-Linden,

H     e told The Birmingham
      News that he wore an elec-
tronic monitoring device, or
                                          had a duty to report it (to federal
                                          authorities).”
                                                     Source: The Associated Press
                                                                                    15 people to decide.”
                                                                                       But this year he held the vote un-
                                                                                    til the companion bill — Senate Bill
                                                                                                                               of letting a vote take place.
                                                                                                                                  During the session, representa-
                                                                                                                               tives from the areas impacted by the
                                                                                                                                                                         said, “It’s gambling and it’s paying.
                                                                                                                                                                         ... I’ll fight you for it.”
                                                                                                                                                                             McCampbell represents Greene
“wire,” during this year’s legis-                                                   (SB) 380, sponsored by Sen. Roger          bill fought and promised to continue      County, where Greenetrack is. (TAB)
lative session to help the inves-         Sen. Charles Bishop, R-Jasper             Bedford, D-Russellville — passed.
tigation. Sanford said, “(Coun-
try Crossing Lobbyist Jarrod)
Massey offered him $250,000
                                          I  got left out of the loop so I
                                             didn’t get bribed. I don’t really
                                          know anything. They didn’t talk
                                                                                       And so Bedford got to work.
                                                                                       The first attempt failed, but after a
                                                                                    revision, it passed without even be-
in contributions last year if he          to me prior. I don’t know if I’m          ing read by everyone who voted.
agreed to support bingo legisla-          here to talk about the bingo bill            Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greens-
tion. He said he turned down the          in the Senate or the problems we          boro, chairman of the Senate Tour-
offer. Sanford, who contacted             had in Walker County.”                    ism and Marketing Committee, said
federal investigators a week ago              Source: Montgomery Advertiser video   he wanted this bill passed quickly.
                                                                                       He and others were willing to pass
                                                                                                                              september 23, 2010 / the AlAbAmA bAptist / pAge 5




                                           Confusing the issue
                                           Proponents assure cities ‘bingo’ is legal, push for ordinances
                                           By Sondra Washington
                                           the Alabama baptist



                                           W
                                                      ho brings “bingo” to town?
                                                         While legislators battled for
                                                      years over gambling bills, slot
                                           machine-style gambling flourished in some
                                           Alabama cities. Even when Gov. Bob Riley
                                           established his Task Force on Illegal Gam-
                                           bling in late 2008 and then fought Attorney
                                           General Troy King for control of it, gam-
                                           bling businesses continued to pop up across

Some local leaders
                                           the state.
                                              In many cases, lawyers and gambling
                                           machine owners approached city council

caught in the web                          members promising revenue as the cure for
                                           the cities’ financial woes. After all, these
                                           municipalities are located in counties that
Larry Langford                             have constitutional amendments allowing
   Former mayor of Birmingham who          established local charities to operate bingo.
allegedly received substantial payouts     The fact that organizations from other areas
from “electronic bingo” machines at        — often newly formed “charities” already
VictoryLand and Greenetrack. On            involved in gambling elsewhere — were the
March 5, Langford was sentenced to         ones approaching council members about
serve 15 years in federal prison after     gambling should have served as a deter-                                                                                 Photo by Jennifer Davis Rash
being convicted Oct. 28, 2009, on 60       rent. But city officials were assured that the    TALKING ‘BINGO’ — Birmingham-area attorney Kim Davidson (left) shares infor-
counts of bibery, fraud, conspiracy,       machines were legal despite warnings from         mation about businesses seeking electronic bingo gambling permits during the
money laundering and filing false tax      the task force, sheriffs and district attorneys   Jan. 28 Bessemer City Council bingo committee meeting. Mayor Edward May
returns. In a federal lawsuit filed Feb.   who said so-called electronic bingo gam-          (right) sits in to share his stance against issuing the permits.
16, 2010, against VictoryLand owner        bling was nothing more than altered slot ma-
Milton McGregor, one of the accusa-        chines used to operate for-profit businesses.     so-called bingo lawyers, promoting gam-         halls like in Walker County. He (Amari) said
tions is that VictoryLand bribed Lang-     Most of the constitutional amendments pro-        bling businesses and claiming to have ex-       that might be obtainable.”
ford with winnings totaling more than      hibit any entity, including the host city, from   pertise in the state’s gambling laws.              Ashville partnered with Shooting Star En-
$1.6 million.                              profiting from the game.                             District Judge John Amari — then a           tertainment Group LLC to set up more than
                                              Still several municipalities opened the        Birmingham-area attorney — approached           200 machines in a temporary facility while a
Joe Turnham                                door to “bingo.”                                  both cash-strapped cities, saying “electron-    major hotel/casino was being planned right
  Alabama Democratic Party chair-                                                            ic bingo” could be played legally. Amari        off I-59. But the temporary facility, as well
man who wrote an editorial published       ‘Bingo’ experts surface                           confirmed he has a relative in the machine      as the future plans, shut down in about two
by the Opelika-Auburn News declar-            Last September, Scott Rogers, director         manufacturing business but said he was not      weeks due to ongoing legal issues and de-
ing his support for a public vote on the   of Hoover-based Community Network As-             personally involved.                            bates.
bingo issue.                               sociation, approached the town of Kimberly           Tarrant Mayor Loxcil Tuck said after Am-        Amari also approached the town of Argo,
                                           about offering “electronic bingo.” He even        ari introduced the idea to her in early 2009,   located less than 20 miles from Ashville, in
David Warren                               hand-delivered his suggested list of new          city Attorney Benjamin Goldman was asked        late 2008 about allowing a large gambling
  Macon County sheriff for the past        bingo regulations to the Town Council.            to draft an “electronic bingo” ordinance.       facility. But when Mayor Paul Jennings and
15 years. He is a defendant in a fed-         According to Mayor Craig Harris, Rogers        City Council members passed the ordinance       the Town Council began working on a con-
eral lawsuit alleging conspiracy, rack-    presented himself as an expert in the “bingo      in September 2009, and Tuck was autho-          tract for an “electronic bingo” facility, it was
eteering and corruption in the way         business,” telling council members his orga-      rized to issue an electronic bingo license to   with John McLeod, a Mississippi business-
“electronic bingo” operations have         nization had opened gambling halls in Fair-       Community Network Association.                  man many said had a sordid past and was
been handled in Macon County.              field and Walker County.                             A “bingo” facility did open in Tarrant but   associated with gambling in Walker County.
                                              Rogers told The Alabama Baptist that he        only operated a few weeks before being shut     But before negotiations could be completed,
John Bolton and Mark White                 also operated a 24-hour gambling facility         down by local authorities.                      McLeod landed in prison in his home state on
   VictoryLand attorneys continue          in Center Point and while his organization                                                        drug charges.
fighting for VictoryLand owner Mil-        had filed bingo permit applications in two or     Same people popping up                             McLeod was also one of three gambling
ton McGregor’s right to operate “elec-     three cities, it hoped to open only one gam-         Ashville Mayor Robert McKay told The         industry representatives who approached An-
tronic bingo.”                             bling hall in Kimberly.                           Alabama Baptist that “groups of people”         dalusia about opening a facility there. The
                                              Plans to open a gambling facility ended        approached him about gambling four or           County Commission was interested, but noth-
James Blacksher, Edward Still and          after Jefferson County District Attorney          five years ago but it was in early November     ing ever happened there.
Fred Gray                                  Brandon Falls attended a Kimberly coun-           2008 that Amari approached him and “asked          The town’s plans were also slowed by the
  Attorneys representing Greene and        cil meeting and told the councilors it would      how the bingo was going. … He said we …         Supreme Court issuing a ruling containing
Macon counties in a class-action law-      violate the state constitution. According         would be legally able to play (electronic       the six characteristics of legal bingo, which
suit against Gov. Bob Riley and task       to Harris, it was then that the council took      bingo).”                                        the type of gambling planned for Argo did
force commander John Tyson for alleg-      the matter “off the table” and sought other          McKay added, “I said the only way I          not fit.
edly violating the Voting Rights Act.      methods to raise revenue for the town.            would consider it is that it would be limited      But it would take more than that to make
                                              Tarrant and Ashville were approached by        and the streets wouldn’t be lined with bingo                  (See ‘Cities,’ page 6)
Page 6 / The alabama baPTisT / sePTember 23, 2010
                                                                             Gambling in Alabama


Houston Co. leaders caught up in ‘bingo’ saga
By Sondra Washington                     rules “more stringent” — as many
The alabama baptist                      other county and city officials have


M
          onths before Country           done — former Rep. Riley Seiben-
          Crossing’s casino opened       hener, who voted to pass the county’s
          in Dothan in late 2009,        charity bingo enabling legislation in
Houston County commissioners             1995, disagreed.
and the casino’s developer, Ron-            “I’ve always been opposed to gam-
nie Gilley, boasted of having proof      bling, and I didn’t like the sneaky
that their gambling plans were le-       way they did it,” Seibenhener said
gal. Unknown to most Alabamians,         at the time. “Chairman Mark Culver
the group had received approvals         and the County Commission misled
from at least two of the state’s high-   the public by saying they were doing
est ranking officials — Attorney         this to regulate bingo, and the real
General Troy King and his former         purpose was for economic develop-
assistant Ken Steely. But from the       ment. If they wanted to regulate bin-
time the development of Country          go, they did not have to open it up 24
Crossing was announced until its         hours a day, seven days a week.”
voluntary closing in January 2010,          Previously bingo in Houston
many other elected officials would       County was limited to weekly five-
be linked to gambling operations at      hour sessions of charity games using
the entertainment complex.               paper cards.
                                            News had not yet surfaced regard-
Opening the door                         ing King’s and Steely’s approvals al-
   It all began Feb. 25, 2008, when      lowing the commission’s new plans                                                                                                     Photo courtesy of the Dothan Eagle
Houston County commissioners sur-        for the county. But 10 days before the    open-and-sHut Case — Houston County’s Country Crossing opened in December for just a few
prised their constituents by quickly     commission’s “bingo” vote, Steely         weeks before closing down to avoid a raid by the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling.
passing an “electronic bingo” ordi-      gave Commissioner Gary Sherer a
nance allowing slot machine-style        “legal opinion” concerning the com-       tion or implementation of a ‘special       opinion was issued, he attended a         sic and Arts Festival] in Enterprise
gambling. While some county resi-        mission’s plans to develop rules to       permit,’ the Houston County Com-           party at Gilley’s home. The invita-       by Ronnie Gilley and 29 mayors in
dents were still reeling from that ac-   license and operate “electronic or        mission’s constitutional authority         tion read, “Come dressed for fun and      my district,” Smith told The Ala-
tion, the commissioners also signed      media bingo games.” Steely had re-        to provide rules and regulations for       join Attorney General Troy King for       bama Baptist in March.
a contract with Gilley to build a 400-   cently left his position as primary as-   bingo games, the evolution of bingo        a bash you’ll never forget!”                 Smith said she did not have a
acre country music entertainment         sistant attorney general to King.         games to include media or electronic          Around this time, Sen. Harri Anne      problem accepting Gilley’s fundrais-
center using revenue from a slot ma-        In his five-page letter, Steely re-    bingo games and the Legislature’s          Smith, now an Independent after she       ing help at that time, but allegations
chine facility being called an elec-     ferred to King’s 2004 findings that       silence regarding special permits and      did not receive the Republican Par-       surfaced that she was changing her
tronic bingo hall that was proposed      gambling could be operated on slot        their acknowledgement of the Hous-         ty’s support for re-election, said she    position from anti-gambling to pro-
for the development.                     machine-style devices in Alabama.         ton County Commission’s authority,         was concerned about the gambling          gambling.
   During that meeting, the commis-      Steely also referenced a court opinion    all combine to provide the Houston         facility planned for the Houston
sioners were questioned about their      allowing “media bingo” in Jefferson       County Commission the author-              County entertainment center.              Celebrity effect
actions and asked to table their votes   County and a 2003 official opinion        ity to create rules and regulations           “People contacted me both pro             “The accusation that the fund-rais-
but they did not. Chairman Mark          issued from King to Sen. Jabo Wag-        for a ‘special permit’ which would         and con,” she told The Alabama            er would in some way influence or
Culver later said waiting would not      goner, R-Birmingham, authorizing          regulate media or electronic bingo,”       Baptist in February. “I didn’t think      change my opinion on how I would
have changed the commission’s vote       bingo games on “paper cards, laptop       Steely wrote.                              the issue was clear if Houston Coun-      vote on this issue is just untrue,”
in the end. Although Culver and his      computers or video consoles.”                With this “official opinion” in         ty could offer this kind of bingo. I      Smith said. “I have been consistent
colleagues insisted their plans were        “The lack of a specific rule or reg-   hand, construction began on Coun-          was concerned for my area because         in my position for several years now
to make the county’s charity bingo       ulation providing for the determina-      try Crossing and continued over the        there was a lot of confusion. People      for allowing the people to vote.”
                                                                                   next year despite a battle of words        wanted answers. The only thing I             One month after Smith’s event
                                                                                   brewing between the county’s of-           knew to do was to go to the governor      and one year after King’s second

            Cities struggle
                                                                                   ficials and residents positioned on        (Bob Riley) and clarify.”                 Houston County opinion, King re-
                                                                                   both sides of the issue.                      She continued, “I went along with      ceived more help from the Country
                                                                                      In September 2008, King gave the        [others] … (Rep.) Benjamin Lewis          Crossing family. Country music

        with gambling question                                                     commission an even stronger en-
                                                                                   dorsement for its gambling strategy
                                                                                   in two official opinions. One issued
                                                                                                                              was there … along with business
                                                                                                                              leaders from the area who were op-
                                                                                                                              posed to the bingo. … He (Riley) told
                                                                                                                                                                        celebrity Randy Owen, who owns
                                                                                                                                                                        a venue at Country Crossing and
                                                                                                                                                                        campaigned extensively with Gilley
         (continued from page 5)            When Davidson filed a lawsuit
   places like Bessemer change their     in circuit court to invalidate one of     in April 2008 stated that the sheriff      us I needed to do a local bill and sent   for the development, honored King
   plans.                                                                          is “required to issue” electronic bin-     our group to the attorney general to      with a January 2010 fund-raiser in
                                         May’s vetoes and direct him to is-
                                                                                   go permits after deeming applicants        see if he could do anything. We left      Birmingham.
      When Mayor Edward May re-          sue bingo permits, he said her ac-
                                                                                   qualified. The other issued in Sep-        the governor and walked over to the          Country Crossing held its grand
   peatedly vetoed the City Council’s    tions were not authorized by the
                                                                                   tember explained that Gilley could         attorney general’s office. I showed       opening Dec. 1, 2009. But Riley’s
   “electronic bingo” ordinances,        full council.                                                                                                                  Task Force on Illegal Gambling
                                                                                   be compensated using revenue from          him a copy of the local constitution-
   council members hired attorney           “They (the council’s bingo com-        Country Crossing’s charity bingo           al amendment. … His advice was to         quickly swooped in to shut the busi-
   Kim Davidson to help achieve the      mittee) are acting off the advice of      games.                                     clarify it with legislation and allow     ness down.
   goal of legalizing and expanding      a lawyer (Davidson) who is a pro-                                                    the people to vote. … So, for two            Eventually the development vol-
   gambling operations.                  ponent of electronic bingo who            ‘Special permits’                          years, that has been my position.”        untarily shut down the entire $87
      Davidson told the council she      was not present during the time of           “The club may pay compensation             During the 2009 legislative ses-       million project Jan. 5 to avoid a task
   was “well-versed in bingo” and        the veto,” May told The Alabama           to a developer or its affiliates under a   sion, Smith and Lewis sponsored           force raid, which reportedly could
   had been involved with gambling       Baptist. “I think her opinion is          development and license agreement          companion bills to limit bingo in         have resulted in the confiscation
   litigation representing a Mobile-     flawed and compromised because            and trademark license agreement …          Houston County to paper games.            of more than 1,700 gambling ma-
   based charity suing the city of       I think she is working for other          in the form of a percentage of bingo       Two weeks later, Smith withdrew her       chines.
   Birmingham to operate a gam-          operators of bingo. She is doing          revenue,” King stated in his opinion.      bill, saying she could not get support       For months, the commissioners
   bling facility there.                 what a lawyer is not supposed             “A ‘special permit’ holder is only         for it in the House from other legisla-   and the Houston Economic Develop-
      Davidson often advised Besse-      to do. … I think she is giving an         required to comply with the rules          tors in her area.                         ment Association, which was set up
   mer’s council on how to accom-        opinion that will generate work           and regulations for the operation of          Then, in December 2009, Smith          to receive charitable donations from
   plish its goal while also repre-      and income for her.”                      charitable bingo in Houston County         allowed Gilley to host a $217,000         Country Crossing, were at odds over
   senting organizations hoping to          Many other Alabama towns and           (the constitutional amendment) in          campaign fund-raiser for her. Smith       whether the county should repay a
   operate casinos in the city. At the   cities are believed to have entered       regards to operating bingo games           said the money was not presented to       portion of the $1.6 million the enter-
   same time, she met with state leg-    the gambling arena following              under that special permit.”                her but used to pay for food, rentals,    tainment complex paid to operate in
   islators on behalf of both parties,   similar paths.                               Houston County’s constitutional         advertising, country music star ap-       2010.
   hoping to get a statewide amend-         Often the parties involved keep        amendment allowing bingo spe-              pearances and other expenses asso-           In July, the commissioners en-
   ment passed to protect and legal-     their names and plans out of the          cifically prohibits this (see Houston      ciated with the event.                    tered into a court-ordered agreement
   ize slot-machine type gambling.       public view.                              County amendment, page 7).                    “A fund-raiser was held for me at      to refund nearly $900,000 to the or-
                                                                                      Three months before King’s initial      the [Verizon Wireless BamaJam Mu-         ganization.
                                                                                                                                               september 23, 2010 / the AlAbAmA bAptist / pAge 7
                                                                             Gambling in Alabama


            Ronnie Gilley:                                                      Luther ‘Nat’ Winn:                                                    Milton McGregor:
           Houston County’s                                                         Greene County’s                                                  VictoryLand,
           Country Crossing                                                          Greenetrack                                                Birmingham Race Course
   R     onnie Gilley, a native of Enterprise and lifelong
         Republican who voted for Gov. Bob Riley in the
   last two gubernatorial elections, is the developer of the
                                                                         L    uther “Nat” Winn did not always own Greenetrack
                                                                              in Eutaw.
                                                                            Paul W. Bryant Jr. was one of the founders and the ma-
                                                                                                                                              A     Hartford native, Milton McGregor is the owner of
                                                                                                                                                    the Birmingham Race Course and VictoryLand in
                                                                                                                                              Shorter.
   400-acre country music entertainment hall Country                     jority share holder of the then-live greyhound racetrack                McGregor, who lives in Montgomery with his wife,
   Crossing in Dothan.                                                   that opened in 1978. But once Greenetrack got in trouble             Patricia, is known as Alabama’s gambling guru. He
      Gilley originally wanted to build his business in his              with animal rights groups in the late 1990s and became               opened VictoryLand in 1984. It began as a racetrack
   hometown, located in Coffee. He went with Houston                     known as a “killing fields” track, Bryant wanted out and             but added electronic gambling in
   County because Coffee County would not give him a                     so he divided ownership of Greenetrack between the 171               2004.
   liquor license and Houston County had a bingo amend-                  employees and the government of Greene County. Winn                     McGregor, who is a successful
   ment.                                                                 was one of the employees who got a share. Bryant then                entreprenuer and businessman,
      Gilley was able to draw in stars                                   moved his money to a Texas track.                                    studied business while a student
   like Randy Owen, George Jones                                            In 1999, Winn bought Greenetrack and became its                   at Troy University. He later served
   and Darryl Worley to help throw                                       CEO and president. By 2003 he had incorporated bingo                 in the U.S. Army in the 1950s dur-
   their weight behind slot machine-                                     into his establishment and between 2004 and 2008 was                 ing the Berlin Crisis. He then came
   style gambling, one of Country                                        operating slot machine-style gambling.                               back to Alabama to work as a ci-
   Crossing’s features.                                                     Winn, who grew up in Greene County, has recently                  vilian at Fort Rucker but left that
      One way he tried to use the influ-                                 had some run-ins with the law while trying to keep Gov.              job in 1981 to begin a career in the
   ence of several country music stars                                   Bob Riley’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling from raiding              amusement industry when video McGreGor
   was by bringing them to legislative                                   Greenetrack.                                                         games were becoming popular.
   public hearings to influence law-                                        On July 1, Winn was arrested twice. The first arrest                 What many people may not know is that McGregor
   makers to pass a bill legalizing and                                  came on charges of obstruction of government opera-                  was among a group of American businessmen belong-
   expanding so-called bingo gam- Gilley                                 tions. He and 16 others, including Sen. Bobby Singleton,             ing to Global Trust Partners, which financed in 2005
   bling in Alabama.                                                     D-Greensboro, were arrested. The second arrest was on                the All Russian Electronic Lottery System — a $300
      Gilley said he did not really care one way or the other            a misdemeanor charge of reckless                                     million venture. Around that time, he and two others
   about “electronic bingo” but it was the way to fund his               endangerment for striking a state                                    traveled to Moscow to accept medals of honor for their
   vision quickly. However, when asked if money from                     trooper in the arm and shoulder                                      efforts to promote economic development between
   another source were available for his project would he                with the mirror of his truck. The                                    Russia and the United States, Mobile’s Press-Register
   give up on the “bingo” idea, he would not answer.                     charges were thrown out, dismissed                                   reported.
      Also during the 2009 legislative session, Billy Gra-               respectively. Winn helped stage sev-                                    “It’s been a long time since I’ve been any more excit-
   ham (not the evangelist), vice president of Gilley’s                  eral protests against the task force                                 ed about a business project,” he told the Press-Register
   business, Ronnie Gilley Properties, LLC, founded En-                  this year but also had help from                                     about the lottery system.
   terprise-based Sweet Home Alabama Coalition, which                    then-Greene County Sheriff Ison                                         Recently the Press-Register reported that McGregor
   sponsored commercials across the state calling for taxa-              Thomas.                                                              sits on the board of directors of the bank that lent
   tion of the so-called electronic bingo gambling indus-                   Thomas, who died in April, made                                   $500,000 to gubernatorial candidate Ron Sparks for
   try. The group supported legislation that attempted to                headlines in February when he                                        his campaign. He also is a personal campaign donor of
   redefine and expand gambling in Alabama. Gilley told                  vowed to stop the task force if it winn                              Sparks.
   The Alabama Baptist that he is a member of the coali-                 came to raid Greenetrack. He later                                      McGregor has given large sums of money to PACs
   tion.                                                                 sent a letter to Attorney General Troy King informing                that donated heavily to several campaigns around the
      In addition to the support of the country music stars,             him of his reasons and concern. Before Thomas became                 state. He also employs several lobbyists to influence
   Gilley was given approval by Attorney General Troy                    sheriff in 2007, he had served as Greenetrack’s chief of             legislators’ votes on gambling.
   King and his former assistant Kevin Steely, who also                  security and deputy sheriff.                                            But what people probably most associate with
   encouraged the county commission’s adoption of the                       In June, Riley appointed George Cook as the new sheriff,          McGregor is the 2009 slogan on his VictoryLand com-
   electronic bingo ordinance.                                           which drew a protest by Greene County residents for his stand        mercial, “Come on down and you can be a winner, too.”
                                                       (TAB)             against Greenetrack’s “electronic bingo” operation. (TAB)                                                              (TAB)




Amendment 569 ratified                                                                                   (1996)

Relating to bingo games in Houston County
   (a) The operation of bingo games                                                    a. A fraternal, or benevolent, or      any individual or entity for any ser-    club, by whatever name or composi-
for prizes or money by certain non-                                                 charitable organization which quali-      vices performed relating to operating    tion, shall take any expenses for op-
profit organizations and certain pri-        To find the constitutional             fies as an exempt organization under      or conducting any bingo game.            erating a bingo game except as per-
vate clubs for charitable, educational,                                             Section 501(c) of the Internal Rev-          (5) A nonprofit organization or       mitted by law.
                                             amendments dealing with bingo
or other lawful purposes shall be le-                                               enue Code.                                club shall not lend its name or allow       (b) The Legislature may, by local
gal in Houston County, subject to any        in 16 counties and two cities in          b. A private club with annual mem-     any other person or entity to use its    legislation, provide for the imple-
resolution or ordinance by the county        Alabama, visit                         bership dues of three hundred dollars     identity in operating or advertising     mentation of this amendment, includ-
commission as provided by law reg-           http://law.justia.com/alabama/         ($300) or more.                           a bingo game in which the nonprofit      ing, but not limited to, the imposition
ulating the operation of bingo. The          constitution/index.html                   (3) Bingo games shall be operated      organization or club is not directly     of criminal penalties for violations of
county commission may promulgate             and search for the area plus           only on the premises owned or leased      and solely operating the bingo game      this amendment or the local legisla-
rules and regulations for issuing per-       the phrase “bingo amendment”           by the nonprofit organization or club     or concessions.                          tion.
mits or licenses and for operating                                                  operating the bingo game. If the             (6) Prizes given by any qualified        (c) This amendment shall not be-
bingo games within the county ju-
                                             (Ex.: Houston County bingo             premises are leased, the rate or rental   nonprofit organization or qualified      come effective unless approved at
risdiction. The county commission            amendment).                            shall not be based on a percentage of     private club for playing bingo games     a referendum by a majority of the
shall insure compliance pursuant to                                                 receipts or profits resulting from op-    shall not exceed the cash amount or      qualified electors of Houston County
any ordinance and the following:                                                    erating the bingo games.                  gifts of equivalent value, set by the    voting on the proposition. The refer-
   (1) No person under the age of 19                                                   (4) No nonprofit organization or       Legislature, during any bingo session.   endum shall be held at the same time
shall be permitted to play any game       be issued to any nonprofit organiza-      club shall enter into any contract with   The Legislature shall set a maximum      as the election for the ratification of
or games of bingo, unless accom-          tion or qualified private club, unless    any individual, firm, association, or     amount for any calendar week.            this amendment, as provided for in
panied by a parent or guardian. No        the organization or club shall have       corporation to have the individual or        (7) One hundred percent of the net    Section 2 of this act, and no further
person under the age of 19 shall be       been in existence for at least five       entity operate bingo games or conces-     revenues derived from operating bin-     election shall be required.
permitted to conduct or assist in the     years and owned real property in the      sions on behalf of the nonprofit orga-    go games shall be designated and ex-        (d) Act No. 93-333, H. 717 of the
conduct of any game of bingo.             county for five years immediately         nization or club. No nonprofit orga-      pended for charitable or educational     1993 Regular Session is repealed.
   (2) Except for special permit hold-    prior to issuing the permit or license,   nization or club may pay consulting       purposes.
ers, no bingo permit or license shall     except the following:                     fees, any compensation or salary to          (8) No person, or organization, or                 Source: www.justia.com
Page 8 / The alabama baPTisT / sePTember 23, 2010
                                                                            Gambling in Alabama


A case of pure justice?
Some circuit judges seem to help gamblers, stand in task force’s way
By Sondra Washington                       sued a temporary restraining order
The alabama baptist                        barring the city from raiding the


J
     udges usually clarify murky facility.
     legal issues when two parties            In June 2010, the News reported
     cannot agree on an issue or that the Judicial Inquiry Com-
punish criminals who are break- mission suspended King from the
ing the law. But when it comes to bench after he reportedly set aside
gambling cases in Alabama, some the rape conviction of a man he
circuit judges have seemed to help represented while in private prac-
gamblers stall law enforcement ac- tice.
tions and continue                                             This was not
to operate illegal                                          King’s first per-
Las      Vegas-style      Arthur Green Jr. sonal brush with
casinos      without           District attorney for        the law.
fear of raids.           Bessemer Cut-off Division             In 2007, the
   When the city of           of Jefferson County.          News reported he
Bessemer and its            Refused to shut down            was charged with
police department                                           “56 counts of tax,
                        illegal gambling operations
began making a                                              ethics and election
stand against ille-         in Bessemer until Task
                                                            law      violations.”
gal gambling estab-        Force Commander shut             Within the year,
lishments, several down gambling operations the charges were
judges assigned to           in Macon and Greene            dismissed report-
the area began re-         County. Shareholder (25          edly because the
sponding more to             percent) of Northwest          “courtroom where
the needs of casino           Alabama Treatment             the grand jury was
owners than to law        Center, a medical facility        meeting was not
enforcement.             specializing in methadone          open to the pub-                                                                                                      Photo by Jennifer Davis Rash
   In August 2009,         maintenance treatment,           lic.”                   your honor — St. Clair County Circuit Judge Charles E. Robinson talks with James Sampley, pastor of
Bessemer police                with Robert White.              Soon       Circuit   FBC Ashville, during the March 17 hearing about the legality of electronic bingo gambling in the county.
raided American                                             Judge Eugene Ver-
Legion Hall Post                                            in began handling       trolled the Governor’s Task Force       against law enforcement attempt-          spite several Alabama Supreme
22, which was
operating slot ma-
                              Robert White                  gambling lawsuits
                                                            in the Bessemer
                                                                                    on Illegal Gambling.
                                                                                       To this action, Judge King re-
                                                                                                                            ing to shut down illegal gambling
                                                                                                                            establishments, most stopped their
                                                                                                                                                                      Court orders overruling Hard-
                                                                                                                                                                      away’s restraining orders against
chine-style gam-             Owner of The Anchor            Cut-off Division of     portedly said Verin, his “longtime      efforts after the Task Force on Ille-     the task force, he continued stand-
bling devices even Club and American Legion Jefferson County,                       friend and colleague, apparently        gal Gambling approached the state         ing in the way of task force raids at
though the city’s           Hall Post 22 gambling           but he also dragged     succumbed to the political pressure     Supreme Court.                            the casino.
ordinance allows           operations in Bessemer.          his feet instead of     ‘bingo’ brings.” At the time, King         But in Greene County, Circuit            In their order, the justices said,
only paper games.            Tried to influence city        allowing law en-        was in a re-election battle against     Judge Eddie Hardaway Jr. had to           “reassignment of this case to a dif-
   Yet The Bir-               council members to            forcement to shut       Verin’s wife, who won the seat.         eventually be removed from the            ferent circuit court judge is also ad-
mingham News re- legalize slot machine-style down                      establish-      Although judges in other coun-       case involving the task force and         visable to preserve the appearance
ported that District            gambling called             ments they be-          ties also issued restraining orders     Greenetrack casino in Eutaw. De-          of justice.”
Judge Eric Fancher              electronic bingo.           lieved were illegal.

                                                                                    hints of ‘bingo’ remain in Walker County
“issued a cease and                                            Verin said he
desist order (to the                                        would issue a rul-
police) after being contacted by at- ing when stating if the slot ma-
torneys for the hall’s operators.”         chine-style gambling being con-          By Sondra Washington                    they were violating it. But he took it       “Tommy Sherer stood before us
   Later when officers returned to ducted in the Cut-off is legal. He               The alabama baptist                     (the issue) to court, and that allowed    (Rizzo’s group) at the Dora Com-
the facility, the machines had been has yet to make that ruling.
removed.                                      In April, Verin also banned any
   Later when Bessemer police at- task force actions against gambling
                                                                                    B    efore Circuit Judge Robert
                                                                                         Vance ended Walker County’s
                                                                                    growing gambling business August
                                                                                                                            these people to be able to carry on
                                                                                                                            for more than two years.”
                                                                                                                               Rizzo was one of many county
                                                                                                                                                                      munity Center, and he shed tears
                                                                                                                                                                      and quoted Scripture saying he was
                                                                                                                                                                      against it (gambling) and that he
tempted to shut down The Anchor facilities in Fairfield while awaiting                                                      residents who united and formed           would do what he could to stop it,”
                                                                                    2009, more than 30 metal buildings
Club, another gambling operation the Alabama Supreme Court’s rul-                                                           groups to fight against gambling in       Rizzo said. “Then, about six of us
within the city owned by Robert ing on whether Gov. Bob Riley or                    popped up offering slot machine-
                                                                                    style games. Around that time,          the area. Still, he explained that they   went down to Montgomery and con-
White, Circuit Judge Dan King is- Attorney General Troy King con-                                                           had to fight against the very legisla-    fronted Tommy and asked if he was
                                                                                    similar gambling businesses were
                                                                                    spreading across the state, but even    tors elected to represent them to get     going to introduce Sen. Bishop’s
                                                                                                                            rid of illegal gambling. Two in par-      bill. He said no because Ken Guin
             Judges’ who’s who
                                                                                    those fighting to expand gambling
                                                                                    in their areas used Walker County       ticular were Rep. Ken Guin, D-Car-        was going to kill it. Ken Guin was
                                                                                    as an example of what they did not      bon Hill, and Rep. Tommy Sherer,          not going to stop it because Sen.
   P.B. McLauchlin Jr.                    Scott Vowell                              want to become.                         D-Jasper.                                 Bishop filed ethics charges against
     Dale County judge involved             Jefferson County circuit judge             Bucky Rizzo, president of the                                                  Guin because Guin was represent-
   in Houston County’s Country            who declared electronic bingo             Walker County Political Account-        A hard fight                              ing bingo clients (as an attorney),
   Crossing case.                         machines to be illegal slot ma-           ability Coalition, said this prolif-      Rizzo said Guin and Sherer were         and it would be an ethics violation.”
                                          chines and ordered that ma-               eration of gambling was fueled by       offered a resolution explaining that         Today Rizzo said there are still
   Allen Millican                         chines at an illegal slot machine         county officials who did not do their   bingo in Walker County is limited to      three or four facilities in Walker
      Etowah County circuit judge         manufacturing company in Kim-             jobs.                                   paper games. Although Sen. Charles        County operating the same kind of
   who in May 2010, ruled against         berly be destroyed.                          “I think the county commission       Bishop, R-Jasper, sponsored it in         games Vance shut down last August,
   a company that was planning to                                                   was the key,” said Rizzo, who also      the Senate, the two representatives       but county leaders are again turning
   open a casino with electronic          Thomas Woodall                            hosts a radio show called “The Peo-     would not sponsor it in the House.        a “blind eye” to them.
   bingo machines in his jurisdic-          State Supreme Court justice             ple’s Viewpoint” on WIXI 1360AM
   tion.                                  who issued a dissenting opinion           in Jasper. “They could have stopped
                                          on gambling in St. Clair County.          it day one, but they chose not to.
   Robert S. Vance                                                                  Judge Vance made them get in-
     Jefferson County circuit judge       Tom Young                                 volved in the case and said they
   who ordered closing of casinos            Circuit judge in Macon Coun-           had the authority to stop it. … Then
   in Walker County in October            ty who twice entered orders to            the sheriff (John Mark Tirey) could
   2009.                                  stop raids on VictoryLand.                have stopped it. The bingo folks
                                                                                    were violating the law, and he knew
                                                                                                                                  october 7, 2010 / the AlAbAmA bAptist / pAge 5




Jefferson Co. ‘bingo’
not ruled by sheriff                                                                                                                                               Photos by Jennifer Davis Rash
   Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale       AlAbAmA’S Supreme Court — The Alabama Supreme Court is made up of a chief justice and eight associate justices. Sue Bell Cobb
learned Sept. 30 that he does not have      currently serves as chief justice and by nature of her role, is the administrative head of the state’s judicial system. The associate justices
overall regulatory authority for the        are Michael F. Bolin, Champ Lyons Jr., Glenn Murdock, Tom Parker, Patricia M. Smith, Greg Shaw, Lyn Stuart and Thomas A. Woodall.



                                            Awaiting the final decision
on-again, off-again “electronic bingo”
halls in the county.
   The Alabama Supreme Court struck
down his authority in an unanimous
opinion. While the court did not deal
with the ongoing debate over what
constitutes legal bingo, it said the 1980
constitutional amendment allowing           Supreme Court rules on ‘bingo’ cases but still silent on existing machines
bingo in Jefferson County gives regula-     By Sondra Washington                            bingo” played on “a card or paper sheet” or       mander. It focused its attention on White Hall
tory authority to the governing body of     the Alabama baptist                             the County Commission’s new bingo regu-           Entertainment Center in Lowndes County


                                            W
the town where the games are located.                  hen the state’s gambling battle      lations allowing so-called “electronic bingo      and raided the facility March 19, 2009. A
   Hale had set rules for bingo opera-                 began, few cases escalated to        machines” passed in July 2008. When a cir-        legal battle ensued and eventually found its
tions, including limited hours and days                Alabama’s Supreme Court. But         cuit court refused its request, the association   way to the Supreme Court. In their November
of operations. He had the support of        as gambling supporters and opponents be-        appealed to the state’s highest court.            2009 ruling, the justices defined legal bingo
District Attorney Brandon Falls, who        gan taking their differences to local circuit                                                     but again did not add an opinion specific to
has consistently stated his opposition to   courts, many wanted higher-level opinions       ‘No jurisdiction’                                 the machines in question (see story, page 6).
the slot machine-type machines being        to resolve their legal issues. Still the high     It took a year for the justices to respond to      This year, the Supreme Court has contin-
labeled bingo.                              court remained relatively quiet on matters      Etowah Association, but in March 2010, they       ued to side with the task force in cases from
   The lawsuit originated with bingo        related to slot machine-style gambling un-      dismissed the appeal because the “circuit         several counties, which many believe proves
hall operators and supporters who           til Gov. Bob Riley’s Task Force on Illegal      court had no jurisdiction over the declaratory    that Riley’s position on gambling aligns with
claimed it was unconstitutional for the     Gambling joined the fight.                      judgment action.” With this ruling, they were     the state’s constitution.
sheriff to have regulatory power.              In September 2008, Etowah Baptist Asso-      not required to state whether they believed          The high court ruled in favor of the task

Correction on Part 4
                                            ciation attempted to intervene in a declara-    the types of machines being used in Alabama       force when Houston County commission-
                                            tory judgment case to determine which law       were legal.                                       ers and business owners received an early
                                            the Etowah County sheriff should enforce:         Earlier, in December 2008, Riley created        morning restraining order Jan. 6 from Circuit
 of gambling series                         the constitutional amendment limiting gam-
                                            bling to “that game commonly known as
                                                                                            the task force and named former Jefferson
                                                                                            County District Attorney David Barber com-
                                                                                                                                              Judge P.B. McLauchlin (a judge for Dale and
                                                                                                                                              Geneva counties) protecting Country Cross-
   In “Gambling in Alabama, part 4” in                                                                                                        ing near Dothan from a raid. Riley’s office
the Sept. 23 issue, state Supreme Court                                                                                                       said no task force lawyers were present when
Justice Thomas A. Woodall was listed                                                                                                          McLauchlin’s order was issued to the casino’s
as issuing a dissenting opinion on gam-                                                                                                       supporters in the “middle of the night.” The
bling in St. Clair County, but the wrong                                                                                                      justices overruled McLauchlin’s actions.
county was published. It should have                                                                                                             In their ruling, they again said, “The trial
been Macon County.                                                                                                                            court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction to in-
   Woodall, along with Chief Justice                                                                                                          terfere with a criminal proceeding (task force
Sue Bell Cobb, issued a dissenting                                                                                                            raid) by civil action (restraining order).”
opinion in the Tyson v. Macon Coun-                                                                                                              Riley’s office called the ruling a “major vic-
ty (appeal) case that involved Macon                                                                                                          tory for the rule of law in Alabama” and said,
County’s VictoryLand.                                                                                                                         “The Supreme Court’s order makes clear that
   The case involved a jurisdictional is-                                                                                                     gambling bosses around the state will not be
sue and did not address the legality of                                                                                                       able to prevent the state’s anti-gambling laws
the gambling operation.                                                                                                                       from being enforced.”
                                                                                                                                                            (See ‘High,’ page 6)
Page 6 / The alabama baPTisT / ocTober 7, 2010
                                                                             Gambling in Alabama


Judicial review                                                        Riley cleared,
Some of the major court cases dealing with ‘bingo’ in the past 2 years not the leak
Circuit court cases:
Macon County
                                          shut down Jan. 29 to avoid a task
                                          force raid. Soon Houston Economic
                                                                                     Walker County
                                                                                       4On Oct. 26, Circuit Judge
                                                                                                                               chran, Louise Alexander, Dorothy
                                                                                                                               Davidson and Jesse Matthews) for           G     ov. Bob Riley has been
                                                                                                                                                                                cleared of accusations
                                                                                                                                                                          that he or one of his staff
   4Circuit Judge Tom Young               Development Association, the char-         Robert Vance ruled the county’s           violating Alabama’s Open Meetings
                                          ity responsible for the slot machine-      so-called electronic bingo halls il-      Act by making gambling plans for           members influenced the state
has issued several restraining or-                                                                                                                                        Supreme Court in a case be-
ders against the Governor’s Task          style gambling portion of the devel-       legal and ordered them to close their     the city in private meetings, among
                                          opment, requested the County Com-          doors.                                    other complaints. Judge N. Daniel          tween John Tyson, command-
Force on Illegal Gambling to pro-                                                                                                                                         er of the Governor’s Task
                                          mission repay a portion of the $1.6                                                  Rogers is presiding over the active
tect VictoryLand in Shorter from                                                                                                                                          Force on Illegal Gambling,
                                          million it paid to operate in 2010.        St. Clair County                          case, but no hearings have been set
raids. After task force Commander                                                                                                                                         and E. Paul Jones, district at-
                                          A court case ensued and the judge             4Circuit Judge Charles E. Robin-       to resolve it.
John Tyson repeatedly went to the                                                                                                                                         torney of Macon County, and
                                          ruled that the county must repay a         son ruled March 30, 2009, that “elec-
Alabama Supreme Court to have the                                                                                                                                         others representing Victory-
                                          portion of the money.                      tronic bingo” machines planned for        Lowndes County
restraining orders overruled, Young                                                                                                                                       Land in Shorter.
issued more orders. On Sept. 3, the                                                  a gambling facility in Ashville were         4David Barber, former task force
                                          Jefferson County                           legal. The Alabama Supreme Court          commander, requested that former              This acquittal came in a
Supreme Court refused to rehear the          4Seventeen groups known as                                                                                                   Sept. 27 report from former
case in which it reversed the most                                                   overturned the ruling Jan. 29, 2010.      Supreme Court Justice Mark Ken-
                                                            charities sued the                                                 nedy, who was appointed to the case        Justice J. Gorman Houston
recent restraining                                          county, District At-                                                                                          Jr., who was asked by the
order.                                                                               Bessemer Cut-Off District                 involving White Hall’s “electronic
                                                            torney       Brandon        4On March 10, 2008, Circuit            bingo” facility in Lowndes County,         Supreme Court to investigate
                                                            Falls, Sheriff Mike      Judge Eugene Verin ruled electronic       should recuse himself because of a         two accusations regarding this
Greene County                                               Hale and Attorney                                                                                             case.
   4Circuit Judge                                                                    machines in Bessemer were illegal         conflict of interest. Jeff Emerson,
                                                            General Troy King        because they were “illegal slot ma-
Eddie Hardaway                                              after Falls ordered
                                                                                                                               Riley’s communications director,           Didn’t impose
issued several re-                                                                   chines as defined by the laws of this     said in a press release, “The judge
                                                            the charities’ “elec-    state.”                                                                                 One of the accusations was
straining    orders                                                                                                            has an obvious conflict of interest.
                                                            tronic bingo” facili-       4In an April 12, 2010, ruling,                                                    that “the executive depart-
against the task                                                                                                               He has a business relationship with
                                                            ties to close or face    Verin said his court had subject mat-                                                ment imposed its will upon
force to prevent it                                                                                                            a casino and should never have is-
                                                            law enforcement ac-      ter jurisdiction to enjoin Jefferson                                                 the judicial department” by
from raiding Green-                                                                                                            sued any kind of ruling in this gam-
                                                            tions. Circuit Judge                                                                                          asking the case be given from
etrack in Eutaw in                                                                   County Sheriff Mike Hale, Gov. Ri-        bling case. We have asked the Su-
                                                            Caryl Privett refused                                                                                         one justice to another and for
late June. The state                                                                 ley and the task force from “conduct-     preme Court to recognize that and
                                                            to hear arguments on                                                                                          a time when the ruling would
Supreme       Court                                                                  ing any ‘raids’ within the Bessemer       we’re confident they will.” Kennedy
                                                            that subject after the                                                                                        be released.
overruled each re-                                                                   Division of Jefferson County” until       was removed by the chief justice
                                                            Alabama Supreme                                                                                                  “After more than 100 hours
straining order and eventually re-        Court issued its six-point test for le-    the state Supreme Court decided           and the case was reassigned.               spent investigating this as
moved Hardaway from the case.             gal bingo Nov. 13. According to The        who should be in charge of the task
                                                                                                                                                                          thoroughly as I could, I found
                                          Birmingham News, attorney Erskine          force. Verin’s ruling was handed
Etowah County                             Mathis, one of the lawyers represent-      down after several Supreme Court          Federal court cases:                       no evidence that this oc-
                                                                                                                                                                          curred,” Houston wrote in his
   4When Etowah Baptist Associa-          ing the charities, said none of his        rulings stated that circuit courts have   Macon and Greene counties
                                                                                                                                                                          report.
tion attempted to join a case between     clients met the criteria established in    no jurisdiction in law enforcement           4Thirty-one residents from Ma-
                                                                                                                                                                             In regard to the second ac-
District Attorney Jimmie Harp and         the Supreme Court’s decision.              efforts. The Supreme Court did rule       con and Greene counties filed a
                                                                                                                                                                          cusation that someone at the
prospective developer CBS Supply,            4On Nov. 17, Privett ruled that         May 21 that Riley was in control of       federal class action lawsuit July 29
                                                                                                                                                                          high court had leaked infor-
Circuit Judge Allen Millican refused      the “electronic bingo” permit issued       the task force, not King.                 against Riley and Tyson, both indi-
                                                                                                                                                                          mation on this particular case
to let it. The association appealed       to Mobile-based charity House of              4Represented by Birmingham             vidually and in their official capaci-
                                                                                                                                                                          while it was still pending,
to the state Supreme Court, but the       Joshua Christian Center by the city        attorney Kim Davidson, Bessemer           ties, citing voting rights violations.     Houston said he was “reason-
court threw the case out March 15         of Birmingham was invalid after the        City Council members filed a law-         The case is ongoing.                       ably convinced that confiden-
since circuit courts have no jurisdic-    city revoked its “electronic bingo”        suit against Mayor Ed May and                                                        tial information … was leaked
tion in criminal cases.                   ordinance. The group, which was            Acting City Clerk Travis Brooks in        Macon County                               to the public.” But he could
                                          represented by Birmingham attor-           February 2010 to dispute the timeli-        4Hope for Families and Com-              not determine the source of
Houston County                            ney Kim Davidson, sued the city,           ness of one of May’s vetoes. Four of      munity Services and other nonprofit        the leak and said he most like-
  4In January, Circuit Judge P.B.         Hale and Falls. Joe Basgier, former        the seven council members passed          organizations planning to open             ly would not be able to even if
McLauchlin, a judge for Dale and          assistant district attorney who repre-     several “electronic bingo” ordinanc-      a gambling facility called Lucky           he extended the investigation.
Geneva counties, issued a late-night      sented Falls in the case, said, “These     es and May vetoed them all. The           Palace in the county filed a law-             “Justice Houston’s conclu-
restraining order against the task        people are desperate to protect an         plaintiffs later said they dropped the    suit accusing Sheriff David War-           sion that there is no evidence
force to protect Houston County’s         opportunity to make money.” After          case.                                     ren and VictoryLand owner Milton           to support the allegations
Country Crossing from a raid. The         leaving Falls’ office, Basgier began          4Bessemer resident Thomas              McGregor of trying to keep Lucky           should put to rest once and
Alabama Supreme Court overruled           representing a group that planned to       Pack filed a lawsuit March 11, 2010,      Palace from opening. U.S. District         for all these baseless claims
his order.                                open a slot machine-style facility in      against the City Council bingo com-       Judge Keith Watkins ruled against          against the governor and the
  4Country Crossing voluntarily           the Bessemer Cut-Off District.             mittee (council President Earl Co-        the charity June 30.                       court,” Jeff Emerson, commu-


High court’s ‘bingo’ caseload heavier than usual in past year
                                                                                                                                                                          nications director for Riley,
                                                                                                                                                                          said in a press release.
                                                                                                                                                                             “Justice Houston’s conclu-
              (continued from page 5)                   case in which it reversed Young’s latest injunction.     court is going to have to inspect the machines and       sion that confidential infor-
   Similar rulings were handed down in cases in-        But the task force has not yet attempted another         say whether [they are] legal.”                           mation was leaked to the pub-
volving Greene and Macon counties, where state          raid of VictoryLand, which has sectioned off the            Johnston added that if one of the parties has a       lic about the case is not a sur-
                                                        portion of its business housing the electronic gam-                                                               prise,” Emerson said. “After
and local officials attempted to protect casino op-                                                              problem with the ruling, then it can appeal to the
                                                        bling machines.                                                                                                   all, one individual not associ-
erations at Greenetrack in Eutaw and VictoryLand                                                                 high court. But the trouble with this scenario is        ated in any way with the gov-
in Shorter.                                                After the high court’s ruling, John Tyson, the        that casino owners are protecting their machines
                                                        task force’s current commander, said in a press re-                                                               ernor held a press conference
   The high court overruled one restraining order                                                                to keep the task force from confiscating them and        on the steps of the Supreme
after another issued by circuit judges in both coun-    lease, “This is the end of the illegal injunction that   having them inspected.
                                                        had prevented law enforcement from taking action                                                                  Court the day before the de-
ties and eventually had to remove Greene County                                                                     “They know they are going to lose when the Su-        cision was released (July 30)
Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway from the Green-            in Macon County.”                                        preme Court gets a proper case,” he said. “They          and announced that the case
etrack case. Hardaway continued to issue restrain-      Need to inspect machines                                 have been delaying and filing all these lawsuits         had been reassigned from one
ing orders against the task force even after the jus-      So far, the justices have not issued a ruling ad-     and claims to try and stop the task force. If the task   justice to another.
tices repeatedly ruled that a circuit court has no      dressing the slot machine-style devices at the heart     force wasn’t there, they wouldn’t be in all these           “While that information
jurisdiction over the task force’s law enforcement      of Alabama’s gambling battle. Birmingham attor-          lawsuits. The Supreme Court has been chipping            was clearly leaked by some-
activities.                                             ney Eric Johnston said a case specifically asking        away at this little case and that little case, but the   one, it was not leaked by the
   A similar action is expected in Macon County,        about the machines will have to be brought before        gamblers know that if they (the justices) cannot get     governor, his staff or any-
where Circuit Judge Tom Young has issued similar        the Supreme Court for such a ruling to be issued.        the machines before them, they can’t rule on them.       one associated with the Task
restraining orders against the task force concern-         “What’s going to have to happen is the task force     … So they (the gamblers) hide them (the ma-              Force on Illegal Gambling,”
ing VictoryLand’s slot machine-style casino. Most       is going to have to confiscate these machines and        chines) away and wait for January (when the task         Emerson said.            (TAB)
recently, the Supreme Court has refused to rehear a     bring in a case to the circuit court,” he said. “The     force may be dissolved by the new governor).”
                                                                                                                                                  october 7, 2010 / the AlAbAmA bAptist / pAge 7
                                                                            Gambling in Alabama


Are attorneys for ‘big boys’ stalling for new governor?
By Sondra Washington                                                                                                                                                     gies have not been used by smaller

                                              S.C. Supreme Court outlawed video poker
the Alabama baptist                                                                                                                                                      casinos and illegal gambling estab-


A
         labama casino owners have                                                                                                                                       lishments.
         hunkered down in the court                                                                                                                                         “It’s not really the same situa-

                                            A
         system for a last stand to              labama is not the only state      vate, and it wasn’t until 1989 that the    with 34,000 machines at 7,000              tion,” Rigdon said.
protect their slot machine-style gam-            that has seen its fair share of   state realized what had happened.          venues.                                       “When you’ve got 10 to 15 ma-
bling businesses. But some legal ex-        infighting over the legality of a         Because the state never intended           But in October 1999, the Su-            chines or less, they don’t necessar-
perts believe the barrage of cases          type of electronic gambling.           to legalize video poker, it did not        preme Court spoke once and for             ily seem to care about them. They
and motions is geared toward drag-             More than a decade ago, the         have a gambling tax or any rules           all and banned the video poker             tend to write those machines off
ging out the gambling battle until          debate over the legality of video      governing gambling such as chil-           industry, marking the first time in        when they get caught.”
January, when new political leaders         poker in South Carolina had es-        dren not being allowed to play.            50 years that a state had outlawed            Johnston said this is not the case
are instated.                               calated to a boiling point after                                                  gambling and uprooted an entire            with the “big boys.”
   “They are not trying to find a le-       approximately 15 years.                1999 ruling                                industry.                                     “They are grasping at straws try-
gitimate legal answer to a legitimate          Video poker came in “through          However, South Carolina did ban             The ruling came in response to          ing to do anything they can to delay
legal question,” said Birmingham at-        the back door” in 1986 after a         big jackpots in 1993 and limited           an action made earlier in the year         Bob Riley’s task force until after
torney Eric Johnston, who heads Cit-        state senator added an amend-          payouts to no more than $125 per           by state legislators, who wanted           January, when the new governor is
izens for a Better Alabama and has          ment to a budget bill as a favor to    day. In 1994, a referendum was held        to let voters decide whether               sworn in,” he said.
fought against gambling for years.          a local businessman, according         to allow counties to decide whether        they wanted video poker. They                 Gubernatorial candidates Dr.
“All they are doing is delaying. …          to Slate, a daily online magazine.     they wanted video poker, but the           had scheduled a statewide ref-             Robert Bentley and Ron Sparks
It’s a war of delay and attrition, and      That amendment deleted two             vote was overturned by the state Su-       erendum for Nov. 2, 1999, but              have both said they will disband
they’ve got the money to do it. They        words from a state law, which          preme Court because it said crimi-         worded the law to say unless vot-          the task force after taking office.
don’t have the law on their side and        created a loophole for the video       nal laws can’t vary from county to         ers chose to keep video poker, it             Bentley said he is opposed to
they know it. But the legal system          poker industry. Slate also report-     county.                                    would be banned. The Supreme               gambling but will handle illegal
will let them carry on the way that         ed that the amendment passed             By 1999, video poker had grown           Court said the referendum was              gambling through other channels
they are carrying on.”                      without any debate, public or pri-     to an estimated $3 billion industry        unconstitutional.            (TAB)         rather than the task force.
   When increased pressure from                                                                                                                                             Sparks plans to work to legalize
gambling lobbyists failed to per-                                                                                                                                        “electronic bingo” gambling — at
suade lawmakers to pass bills legal-     legislation that would give them the      according to him, “less than 8 per-        of lawyers and going to court on           least in some areas — as well as a
izing gambling over the past several     monopoly on it and would exempt           cent” of those have any merit. Still       everything they can dream up to            lottery, if he is elected.
years and Gov. Bob Riley’s Task                                                    he said the bar investigates the ap-       make a case out of — the latest be-           Either way, the thought of no
                                         them from the law altogether be-
Force on Illegal Gambling began                                                                                                                                          more task force has given hope to
                                         cause they knew what they were do-        propriate complaints and handles           ing the federal court case (involving
investigating and acting against ca-                                                                                                                                     some facility operators.
                                         ing was unlawful. These are the bills     them as a grand jury would in a            McGregor and Winn’s gambling lo-
sinos in late 2008, gambling sup-                                                                                                                                           Johnston likened the large casino
porters began turning to the courts      we’ve seen for the past few years. …      criminal case.                             cations) saying their civil rights were    bosses’ actions to those of a mad
to save the businesses.                  They knew they were operating out-           McLain would not say whether            violated under the Voting Rights           man.
   Johnston said the courts usually      side the law, and … that’s why they       any casino lawyers had been brought        Act,” Johnston said.                          “They don’t want to get bound
are used to resolve legitimate claims    were seeking these constitutional         up on ethics charges, but he did say          “Normally, if you’ve got a case         down,” he said. “It’s like a mad
but these cases involve “people with     amendments.”                              none had been found guilty of ethics       and you want to resolve a question         man you are trying to hold down,
political interests trying to use the                                              violations.                                of law, you hire lawyers from one          and he’s twisting and turning and
political system to advance their pri-
                                         Questionable ethics?                         Initially small cases were brought      firm to represent you,” he said. “Oc-      trying to do damage trying to get
vate and political positions.”              Some gambling opponents have           before Alabama judges by casino            casionally you may have several law-       away.
   “They (the gambling magnates)         questioned the ethics of the high-        owners trying to protect their busi-       yers in a case depending on the num-          “They are trying to keep the law
were sailing along just fine (before     paid attorneys representing Alabama       nesses. But now a group of casino          ber of parties in the lawsuit. They’ve     from catching up with them,” John-
the task force was formed) and no-       casinos, but the line separating good     magnates whom Johnston calls the           got different lawyers in different         ston explained. “They’ve failed in
body was bothering them,” he said,       legal practices and ethics violations     “big boys” — VictoryLand owner             jurisdictions in different cases, and      the Legislature. They’ve failed in
referring to Attorney General Troy       is unclear.                               Milton McGregor, Greenetrack               they are doing different things. …         the court system. They can see the
King and many district attorneys            Tony McLain, general counsel for       CEO Luther “Nat” Winn and Coun-            Every time you turn around, it’s dif-      promised land. January is not that
who allowed the casinos to thrive        the Alabama State Bar, said his of-       try Crossing owner Ronnie Gilley —         ferent lawyers making a comment.”          far away.
without fear of law enforcement ac-      fice receives about 1,500 complaints      are inundating the legal system for           Brady Rigdon, deputy to Jefferson          “But if they can stop the Supreme
tions.                                   each year against some of the state’s     their purposes.                            County District Attorney Brandon           Court from ruling until after Janu-
   “They got greedy and tried to pass    nearly 17,000 licensed lawyers. But          “It’s the big boys hiring legions       Falls, said these types of legal strate-   ary, that takes the pressure off.”


Supreme Court’s 6-point ‘bingo’ test changed everything                                                                       his council’s gambling expansion
By Sondra Washington                     nounced; if one of the values matches ning pattern and announce that fact.
the Alabama baptist                      a value on one or more of the player’s         Shortly after this ruling was is-     plans, told The Alabama Baptist that

T    he closest Alabama Supreme          cards, then he or she must physically sued, many gambling machine                    nobody on Fairfield’s City Council
     Court justices have come to         act by marking his or                                       owners and officials     was qualified to determine if the ma-
determining the legality of the slot     her card accordingly.                                       planning to bring        chines were legal.
machine-style gambling devices              4. A player can                                          slot machine-style          Soon casino owners in Houston,
housed in several casinos across the     fail to pay proper at- “The fact that casino                gambling to their ar-    Lowndes and Macon counties also
                                         tention or properly                                         eas announced they       said their machines satisfied the
state is issuing a six-point descrip-
tion of legal bingo. The explanation     mark his or her card bosses are trying to ... had new machines                       Supreme Court’s requirements. Yet
                                         and thereby miss an                                         that met the Supreme     none of them allowed Gov. Bob Ri-
was delivered in a November 2009
ruling addressing gambling opera-        opportunity to be de- use the [court] rules                 Court’s       require-   ley’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling
                                         clared a winner.                                            ments. But none ever     to inspect the machines to prove their
                                            5. A player must to justify illegal ma-
tions at Lowndes County’s sole ca-                                                                                            validity. In the end, the facilities ei-
sino in White Hall. The justices said                                                                brought the machines
                                         recognize that his                                          in for an official de-   ther closed voluntarily or experi-
                                         or her card has a chines is ridiculous.”
the “game commonly or traditionally                                                                                           enced task force raids.
                                                                                                     termination by any
known as bingo” must include these       “bingo,” i.e., a pre-                          Todd Stacy companies other than          Todd Stacy, Riley’s press secre-
characteristics:                         determined pattern of         Gov. Riley’s press secretary those hand-picked         tary, said the court’s ruling is clear.
   1. Each player uses one or more       matching values, and,                                       and paid by the ca-         “The Supreme Court didn’t lay
cards with spaces arranged in five       in turn, announce to                                        sino owners.             down six guidelines for converting a
columns and five rows, with an al-       the other players and                                          On Dec. 3, 2009,      slot machine to a bingo machine,” he
phanumeric or similar designation        the announcer that this is the case be- Fairfield leaders displayed machines         said. “They said, ‘This is what con-
assigned to each space.                  fore any other player does so.              in City Hall and said they com-          stitutes bingo and if it doesn’t meet
   2. Alphanumeric or similar desig-        6. The game of bingo contem- plied with the high court’s test. The                these guidelines, it’s not bingo.’ …
nations are randomly drawn and an-       plates a group activity in which mul- mayor and council members already              The fact that casino bosses are trying
nounced one by one.                      tiple players compete against each supported the city’s gambling op-                 to take this test and use the Supreme
   3. In order to play, each player      other to be the first to properly mark erations. But Bessemer Mayor Ed               Court’s rules to justify illegal ma-
must pay attention to the values an-     a card with the predetermined win- May, who has continuously fought                  chines is ridiculous.”
                                                                                                                                    october 14, 2010 / the AlAbAmA bAptist / pAge 5




                                            All bets not off in Alabama
                                            Gambling continues on federally protected indian land
                                            By Sondra Washington
                                            the Alabama baptist



                                            W
                                                        hen Macon County’s “bingo” ca-
                                                        sino at VictoryLand shut its doors
                                                        in August, gambling opponents
                                            claimed victory in their fight against Ala-
                                            bama’s slot machine-style businesses and
                                            said the gambling facilities were “100 per-
                                            cent shut down.” But that 100 percent didn’t
                                            include the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’
                                            three casinos.

 Who are the Poarch
                                               State legislators, city and county leaders,
                                            gambling bosses and members of Gov. Bob
                                            Riley’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling have

  Creek Indians?                            fought all year about the future of the state’s
                                            so-called electronic bingo industry, but gam-
                                            bling at Indian casinos has continued. Bill-
   In 1984, the Poarch Band of Creek        boards, TV commercials and newspaper ads
Indians became the only federally rec-      imply a sophisticated casino atmosphere at
ognized tribe in Alabama. There are         the tribe’s facilities even though they are lim-
currently almost 3,000 members of the       ited to the same slot machine-style gambling
tribe. While the ancestors of the Poarch    that is currently shut down across Alabama.
Creek Indians lived along the Alabama          Some have accused Riley of turning a blind
River, the Creek families who received      eye to the casinos to protect Indian gambling
land grants in 1814 and 1836 following      and then receive some sort of payout. He has
the Trail of Tears in 1830 moved inland     repeatedly denied these claims.
away from the river into the Poarch            Others say the task force could not move                                                                               Photo by Jennifer Davis Rash
area, near Atmore.                          against the casinos since federal laws allow       a world of its own — Driving south on I-65, the Wind Creek Casino & Hotel seems some-
   In the 1940s, community leaders          federally recognized Indian tribes to oper-        what out of place as one nears Atmore. Surrounded by farmland and very little else, the property
took action to improve community            ate gambling in states where certain types of      includes 236 hotel rooms, conference rooms, restaurants, a day spa and a cooking school.
conditions and educational opportu-         gambling are legal (see story, page 7).
nites. In 1950, a nine-member formal           Either way, Indian gambling is alive and        tory Act (IGRA) of 1988, “An Indian tribe            In 2006, a news release from Attorney Gen-
governing body was established. (His-       well in Alabama, and it may be awhile before       may engage in, or license and regulate, Class     eral Troy King’s office stated that he filed a
tory provided by Poarch Creek Indians       that changes — if it ever does.                    II gaming on Indian lands within such tribe’s     response with the Department of the Interior
tribal offices)                                Currently the Atmore area-based tribe           jurisdiction, if … such Indian gaming is lo-      opposing the tribe’s request to “significantly
                                            owns and operates Wind Creek Casino & Ho-          cated within a state that permits such gaming     expand the scope of Indian gambling in Ala-

Clarification on Part 4
                                            tel in Atmore, Creek Casino Montgomery and         for any purpose by any person, organization       bama” to include “pari-mutuel wagering on
                                            Creek Casino Wetumpka.                             or entity.” The act defines Class II gaming       horse and dog races, conduct poker tourna-
                                               The casinos began opening just three or         as “the game of chance commonly known as          ments and sweepstakes and add an auto-daub
  of gambling series                        four years after the tribe was recognized by
                                            the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bu-
                                                                                               bingo (whether or not electronic, computer or
                                                                                               other technologic aids are used in connection
                                                                                                                                                 feature to its electronic bingo games.”
                                                                                                                                                    In his release, King expressed “legal objec-
   In the “Gambling in Alabama, part 4”     reau of Indian Affairs in 1984, said Robert        therewith).”                                      tions on behalf of himself and the governor”
series in the Sept. 23 issue, a comment     McGhee, governmental relations adviser for            McGhee said the tribe initially offered tra-   and argued that the Poarch Creeks’ request
about Rep. Tommy Sherer, D-Jasper, in       the Poarch Creek Indians. This designation         ditional paper bingo but advanced their ca-       included a “mischaracterization of the state
the article about Walker County could       allows tribe members access to various gov-        sinos as technology advanced. At times, the       of Alabama’s gambling law and policy.”
mislead readers to think Sherer might       ernment services and to offer gambling.            proposed moves were protested by Alabama             “It is my steadfast hope that the Interior
support gambling efforts. But that is          According to the Indian Gaming Regula-          officials.                                                      (See ‘Indian,’ page 6)
not the case. Sherer has been a con-
sistent opponent of gambling and has
always stood against efforts to expand
gambling in Alabama.                                                                           Poarch Creek Casinos
   Sherer did support a bill limiting          Wind Creek Casino & Hotel                              Creek Casino WetuMpka                              4Sizzling 7s
bingo in Walker County to paper games          Located near Atmore                                    (also known as Riverside Casino)                   4Triple Lucky 7s
and tried to help get it out of the House      450,000 sq. ft.                                        Located in Wetumpka                                4American Original
local legislation committee, but Rep.          4More than 1,600 slot machine-style                    439,000 sq. ft.                                    4Double Diamond
Ken Guin, D-Carbon Hill, opposed the           gambling devices                                       4More than 900 slot machine-style                  4Hot Shots Blazing 7s
bill. Because it was considered local                                                                 gambling devices
legislation, it needed unanimous sup-          Creek Casino MontgoMery                                                                                   4Quick Hit Black & White
port from the local delegation to pro-         (also known as Tallapoosa Casino)                      Games offered on the slot machine-                 4Draw Poker
ceed. Without Guin’s support, it was           Located in Montgomery                                  style gambling devices:                            4Hexbreaker
a contested local bill and thus did not        421,000 sq. ft.                                        4Wheel of Fortune                                  4Texas Tea
come out of committee.                         4500 slot machine-style gambling devices               4Price is Right                                    4Beetle Bailey
Page 6 / The alabama baPTisT / ocTober 14, 2010




Poarch Creeks seek compact with state to expand gambling
By Sondra Washington                                 Gaming Commission (NIGC) said that, under
The alabama baptist                                  the NIGC interpretation of IGRA, the machines

I  n states where full-fledged casino-style gam- in use at White Hall, VictoryLand and Green-
   bling is illegal, like Alabama, Indian tribes etrack were not Class II bingo at all, but Class
must negotiate a tribal-state compact to operate III slot machines because the machines perform
those types of establishments. Representatives the task that the game of bingo requires of hu-
for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians consider man players.”
this to be a cut-and-dried issue. But, like many        The NIGC does consider some slot machine-
other legal matters, the issue may not be as easy style gambling machines to be Class II gambling
as it seems.                                         or electronic bingo, and the Poarch Creeks must
   The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), be approved by NIGC to operate their casinos.
which governs Indian gambling across the                Birmingham attorney Eric Johnston said the
country, explains how a state’s government and law is not as simple as McGhee makes it out
a sovereign Indian nation should negotiate the to be.
agreement.                                              “Until there is a new constitutional provision
   The law states, “Any Indian tribe having ju- passed that allows Class III-type gambling —
risdiction over the Indian lands upon which a which includes card games, roulette wheels,
Class III gaming activity is being conducted, etc. — a governor can not allow a compact
or is to be conducted, shall request the state in with the Indians,” said Johnston, who heads the
which such lands are located to enter into nego- Southeast Law Institute. “Gov. Riley has taken
tiations for the purpose of entering into a Trib- the position that the state does not have Class
al-State compact governing the                                        III gambling, and that he is not
conduct of gaming activities.                                         going to enter into an agree-
Upon receiving such a request,                                        ment that allows the Indians to                                                                                  Photo by Jennifer Davis Rash
the state shall negotiate with the “As an Indian tribe,               have Class III gaming.”              thriving enterPrise — The Poarch Band of Creek Indians plans to turn its
Indian tribe in good faith to en-                                                                          Wind Creek casino near Atmore into a resort destination.
ter into such a compact.”
                                                                         In November
                                     you are supposed to tionala update from2007 South-    the
                                                                                                educa-

   The federal law adds, “The                                         east Law Institute, Johnston         for fundamental principles of states’ rights and     to operate the games instead of charging ahead
United States district courts be allowed to make                      described a similar standoff         an arrogant lack of respect for the people of        and then expecting to be forgiven or ignored.”
shall have jurisdiction over any                                      between Texas and one of its         Alabama. Federal bureaucrats simply lack the            Since that time, Johnston said the case has
cause of action initiated by an the rules on your                     Indian tribes. In that case, a       authority to override the will of the people of      been dismissed “for being premature, and there
Indian tribe arising from the                                         Texas tribe asked the secretary      Alabama by allowing casino gambling to in-
failure of a state to enter into reservation.”
                                                                                                                                                                has been no further action on whether Indian
                                                                      of the interior to permit them       vade our state. I will not stand idly by and allow   tribes in Alabama wish to have Class III gam-
negotiations with the Indian                       Daniel McGhee Class III gambling because the            them to do so.”                                      ing.”
tribe for the purpose of entering               Poarch Creek Tribal state wouldn’t allow it. Accord-         The tribe responded accusing King of run-             Still, McGhee and the tribe are optimistic
into a Tribal-State compact ...                Gaming Commission ing to Johnston, the 5th Circuit          ning a “game of hypocrisy” and “selectively          about signing a compact with the incoming
or to conduct such negotiations                                       Court of Appeals ruled that this     applied justice.”                                    governor.
in good faith.”                                                       request violated the terms of                                                                “From a tribe member’s perspective, I’m al-
   Daniel McGhee, administrator of the Poarch IGRA since “Congress did not mean to give                    ‘Offending our intelligence’
                                                                                                                                                                ways hopeful,” he said. “No one is out to break
Creek Tribal Gaming Commission, believes that much authority to the secretary, and he cer-                    “In football, a great defense may be a great
IGRA requires Alabama to negotiate a compact tainly could not infringe on the sovereignty of               offense, but in the case of Alabama’s attorney       any laws. We just want to exercise our sover-
with the tribe. He said his tribe has asked Gov. the state.”                                               general, trying to convince Alabama that he          eign right. … We deserve the same respect as
Bob Riley and previous Alabama governors to             The Poarch Creek Indians attempted to get          is defending the state by offending our intel-       any other state you negotiate with.”
enter into such a compact, but they were repeat- the same type of relief from the Department               ligence will just not work,” the tribe said in a        According to the National Indian Gaming
edly refused.                                        of the Interior against the state of Alabama in       press release. “For some time, the Poarch Band       Commission (NIGC), Alabama’s three Indian
   “It’s a matter of principle,” he said. “As an 2006 trying to “force Alabama into the position           of Creek Indians have asked that it be allowed       casinos are a part of the Washington region,
Indian tribe, you are supposed to be allowed of not acting ‘in good faith’ (as IGRA states)                to operate the same kind of electronic bingo         which includes 25 other gambling operations in
to make the rules on your reservation. That’s and having the secretary make that decision and              games that wealthy racetrack owners operate in       Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi,
what the constitution says. … It’s supposed to then permit high stakes forms of gambling.”                 other parts of the state. Unlike those racetrack     North Carolina and New York — all but Florida
be your decision because you have a reserva- The 5th Circuit court’s ruling does not apply                 owners, the Poarch Band actually asked for           and Alabama have state compacts allowing full
tion. … Alabama doesn’t have to negotiate with in Alabama which falls under the 11th Circuit               permission from the appropriate federal entities     casino gambling.
Mississippi when they want to do something. Court’s jurisdiction.
But, the Poarch Creek has to negotiate with Al-         In 2006, the state of Alabama responded ask-
abama, and we are supposed to be considered a ing the Department of the Interior to refer to a
sovereign nation — a state within a state.”          prior case where a federal court ruled against
   But Todd Stacy, Riley’s press secretary, dis- this type of action. But, in 2008, their request
                                                                                                                 Indian casino plans include
agreed.
   “Gov. Riley has said for years that he will not
                                                     was dismissed.
                                                        Attorney General Troy King then filed a
sign a compact with the Poarch Band because federal lawsuit against the department and re-
                                                                                                                restaurant, retail components
it would expand gambling in the state of Ala- sponded, “The Department of the Interior’s                                (continued from page 5)                    In the end, the tribe purchased a con-
bama,” he said. “In 2004 the National Indian recent actions represent a complete disregard                    Department will base its decision upon            trolling interest in the Mobile Greyhound
                                                                                                              principles of law that we have presented          Park in Theodore and another track in Pen-
                                                                                                              and deny this effort to spread a practice         sacola, Fla. It also expanded its “electronic
                                                                                                              that is detrimental to our citizens and con-      bingo” casinos, which now offer about
                                                                                                              trary to our state’s laws and policy,” he         3,000 slot machine-style games; more than
                                                                                                              said.                                             1,600 machines are at the tribe’s newly ex-
                                                                                                                 The tribe issued its own press release,        panded Wind Creek casino.
                                                                                                              stating that King was protecting “un-
                                                                                                              regulated non-Indian gaming, … turning            Plans for development
                                                                                                              a blind eye to other gaming within this              McGhee said the tribe is completing
                                                                                                              state and denying the tribe a level playing       plans to turn the casino into a resort des-
                                                                                                              field.”                                           tination surrounded by a proposed retail
                                                                                                                 The release added, “Pari-mutuel bet-           development area. He also said there are
                                                                                                              ting, sweepstakes, poker tournaments              plans to expand the Wetumpka casino and
                                                                                                              and one-touch bingo are currently being           add a hotel and restaurants to the site.
                                                                                                              played at dog tracks and other venues in             According to the Bureau of Indian Af-
                                                                                                              Alabama. These games, which fall within           fairs, 11 other American Indian groups
                                                                                                              the IGRA’s definition of ‘Class III’ games,       (see story, page 7) have either applied or
                                                                                                              are prominently advertised on billboards,         expressed an intent to apply for federal
                                                                            Photo by Jennifer Davis Rash      newspapers, radio and television through-         recognition, which, if given, would allow
original Plan — The Creek Casino Wetumpka (Riverside Entertainment Center) was Poarch                         out Alabama.”                                     them to offer gambling in Alabama.
Creek Indians’ first choice for a resort casino destination, but city restrictions changed their minds.
                                                                                                                                            october 14, 2010 / the AlAbAmA bAptist / pAge 7




         What is                               Gambling on Indian lands: State
         IGRA?                                 government vs. federal government
I  t has been within only the past two
   decades that the United States has at-
                                               By Sondra Washington
                                               the Alabama baptist

                                                                                                               Other American Indian groups in
                                               A
tempted to regulate the Indian gambling                 labama gambling operators have con-
industry and protect the rights of both                 tinuously used the Poarch Band of
Indian tribes and states.
   The U.S. Congress passed the Indian
                                                        Creek Indians’ casinos as an excuse to
                                               continue their gambling businesses across the
                                               state. Most questioned how Gov. Bob Riley’s
                                                                                                             Alabama that have petitioned federal
                                                                                                                 government for recognition
Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 1988
only after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled        Task Force on Illegal Gambling could force
in favor of the Cabazon Band of Mission        slot machine-style gambling facilities around
Indians in a 1987 case between the state       Alabama to shut down without even attempt-                 4Principal Creek Indian Nation East of        04/20/1994; Postal service certified letter
of California and the Cabazons.                ing to approach similar Indian casinos.                  the Mississippi in Florala                      returned 11/5/1997
   The case was filed after California and        But some legal experts say gambling on                  Status: Declined 06/10/1985                      4Cherokee Nation of Alabama in Bir-
Riverside County sought to apply their         sovereign Indian lands cannot be controlled
                                                                                                          4MaChis Lower Alabama Creek Indian            mingham
laws and ordinances governing the op-          or prevented until the state deals with its own
                                                                                                        Tribe in New Brockton                              Status: Letter of Intent to Petition
eration of bingo games to the Cabazons,        gambling problems.                                                                                       02/16/1999
who were operating bingo and poker                Robert McGhee, Poarch Creek governmen-                  Status: Declined 08/22/1988
games on their reservations and opening        tal relations adviser, said the National Indian           4MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians in                  4Cherokee River Indian Community in
them to the public. The Supreme Court          Gaming Commission, which regulates all Indi-             Mt. Vernon                                      Moulton
ruled that states did not have regulatory      an gambling, allows tribes like his to offer slot         Status: Declined 11/26/1999                       Status: Letter of Intent to Petition
control over Indian gambling because           machine-style “electronic bingo” gambling in                                                             08/03/2000
Congress had not “expressly consented”         states where bingo is legal.                                4Cherokee Tribe of Northeast Alabama            4Phoenician Cherokee II — Eagle
that “state laws may be applied to tribal         “If the state has bingo for a form of gaming,         (formerly Cherokees of Jackson County,          Tribe of Sequoyah in Gadsden
Indians on their reservations.” As a result,   then the tribe is allowed to do Class II gaming          Alabama) in Pinson                                 Status: Letter of Intent to Petition
states pushed Congress to pass IGRA to         (which includes electronic bingo),” McGhee                  Status: Letter of Intent to Petition         9/18/2001
give them some control and rights in re-       said.                                                    09/23/1981
gard to gambling on Indian reservations.          “The problem is when it comes to the state                                                               4United Cherokee Ani-Yun-Wiya Na-
                                                                                                          4Cherokees of Southeast Alabama in            tion (formerly United Cherokee Intertribal)
                                               government compared to the federal govern-               Dothan
Gambling classes                               ment, the state is saying … they don’t believe             Status: Letter of Intent to Petition
                                                                                                                                                        in Guntersville
   The act divides Indian gambling into                                                                                                                    Status: Letter of Intent to Petition
                                               electronic bingo is considered Class II bingo            05/27/1988
three categories. Class I Indian gambling                                                                                                               11/08/2001
                                               machines. … They look at those machines as
consists of traditional and social games       illegal because that’s not traditional bingo,” he          4The Langley Band of the Chickamo-               4Coweta Creek Tribe in Phenix City
with insignificant prizes. This type of        continued.                                               gee Cherokee Indians of the Southeastern           Status: Letter of Intent to Petition
gambling is free of state regulation and          “Now when you look at the federal govern-             United States in Birmingham                     2/12/2003
limited to tribal jurisdiction.                ment — because we are a federally recognized               Status: Letter of Intent to Petition          Source: www.bia.gov/idc/groups/public/documents/text/idc-001215.pdf
   Class II Indian gambling involves           tribe and we fall under federal law — federal
bingo and bingo-type games. Slot ma-           law states that if a state is doing bingo, then the
chines are excluded from this class. It        federal government will determine what bingo          the Southeast Law Institute and has fought         go facilities around the state are illegal.
is allowed only if this type of gambling       is,” McGhee said. “The federal government             against legalizing gambling for years. “If Mil-       “Electronic bingo and electronic slot ma-
is permitted in the state for any purpose      has determined that the machines we use are           ton McGregor (VictoryLand), Greenetrack,           chines are two different things,” he said refer-
and the tribal government adopts a gam-        actually bingo machines.”                             Ronnie Gilley (Country Crossing) and all the       ring to the Alabama Supreme Court’s six-point
bling ordinance that has been approved            McGhee said the state would have to “out-          other places are permitted to operate slot ma-     test for determining legal gambling.
by the National Indian Gaming Commis-          law paper bingo” to prevent his tribe from of-        chine gambling, then the Indians will be able         “Just because no one challenged it for a
sion (NIGC).                                   fering “electronic bingo gambling.” He added,         to have it. But, conversely, if they are not al-   number of years doesn’t make it legal. There’s
   Class III Indian gambling encom-            “If the state did not have paper bingo, then we       lowed to have that level of gambling, then the     prostitutes walking around in big cities, but
passes any game that is not allowed in         could not do what we we’re doing.”                    Indians cannot have it. The Indians are not im-    that doesn’t mean it’s OK. That was the law
Class I or II and is often referred to as         Birmingham attorney Eric Johnston dis-             mune.”                                             falling down on its job. ... Only when we re-
casino-style gambling. This includes           agreed.                                                 Johnston said the kind of machines cur-          solve these issues in Alabama can we then turn
slot machines, poker and blackjack. But           “They can play the same level of gambling          rently used by the Indians and formerly            to the Indians and tell them to stop the slot
like Class II gambling, this type of gam-      allowed in the state,” said Johnston who heads        used in so-called charity electronic bin-          machine-type bingo.”
bling is allowed only if it is legal in the

                                               Poarch Creeks’ ordinance concerning gaming
state and is authorized by a resolution
approved by the NIGC. In addition, the
state and tribe must come to an agree-
ment on how the Class III gambling will           CLASS I GAMING. Social games played                operation, and limitations on wagers and pot       games such as roulette, craps, and keno; (b)
be conducted. IGRA specifies that a state      solely for prizes of minimal value, or tradi-         sizes.                                             Any slot machines as defined in 15 U.S.C.
must attempt to negotiate in good faith        tional forms of Indian gaming when played                                                                1171(a)(1) and electronic or electromechani-
if a tribe approaches it about negotiating     by individuals in connection with tribal cer-            (6) CLASS III GAMING. All forms of              cal facsimiles of any game of chance; (c) Any
conditions for Class III gambling. Oth-        emonies or celebrations.                              gaming that are not class I gaming or class        sports betting and pari-mutuel wagering in-
erwise the tribe can sue the state and ask                                                           II gaming, including but not limited to: (a)       cluding but not limited to wagering on horse
the federal court to mediate. If the state                                                           Any house banking game, including but not          racing, dog racing or jai alia; or (d) Lotteries.
                                                  CLASS II GAMING. Class II gaming
refuses to cooperate, then the U.S. secre-                                                           limited to — (1) card games such as baccarat,
tary of the interior has the right to estab-   shall mean: (a) Bingo or lotto (whether or
                                               not electronic, computer, or other technologic        chemin de fer, blackjack (21), and pai gow (if       Source: Poarch Band gaming ordinance,
lish the Class III gambling operations.                                                              played as house banking games); (2) casino         Aug. 2, 1993
   The act also states that the revenue        aids are used) when players: (1) play for priz-
from Indian gambling is restricted to          es with cards bearing numbers or other des-
fund tribal government, provide for the        ignations; (2) cover numbers or designations
tribe’s welfare, promote economic de-          when object, similarly numbered or designat-
velopment within the tribe, fund chari-        ed, are drawn or electronically determined;
table organizations and fund operations        and (3) win the game by being the first person
of local government agencies.                  to cover a designated pattern on such cards;
   The U.S. Department of the Interior’s       (b) If played in the same location as bingo or
Bureau of Indian Affairs has the authori-      lotto, class II gaming shall include pull-tabs,
ty to investigate and prosecute violations     punch boards, tip jars, instant bingo, and other
of IGRA. Since the act’s passage, neither      games similar to bingo; and (c) Non-banking
party has been completely satisfied. In-       card games that (1) state law explicitly au-
dian tribes want less state restrictions,      thorizes, or does not explicitly prohibit, and
and states want more control over Indian       are played legally anywhere in the state, and
gambling.                             (TAB)    (2) players play in conformity with state laws
                                               and regulations concerning hours, periods of
                                                                                                                                  OctOber 21, 2010 / the AlAbAmA bAptist / pAge 7




                                         Sudden silence
                                         Candidates running for state, local offices quiet on gambling
                                         By Sondra Washington
                                         the Alabama baptist



                                         A
                                                   labama political candidates are no
                                                   strangers to heated debates over is-
                                                   sues they plan to support or oppose
                                         if and when they are elected. Often voters are
                                         told the matters at stake will change the state
                                         as they know it.
                                            Experts say this year is no different even
                                         though many legislative candidates seem to
                                         be avoiding discussions on legalizing or pro-
                                         hibiting gambling, an issue some say could
                                         alter the landscape of the state and do away
                                         with many of the longstanding values held by
                                         Alabama residents. (See pages 4–6 for the gu-
                                         bernatorial candidates’ stances on gambling.)
                                            Birmingham attorney Eric Johnston be-
                                         lieves much of the hush among legislative
                                         candidates surrounding the gambling issue is
                                         caused by the recent FBI indictments of 11
                                         legislators, gambling bosses and lobbyists
                                         connected to this year’s Alabama Senate vote
                                         to legalize and expand gambling.
                                            “If it hadn’t been for the indictments, it
                                         (gambling) would have been a bigger deal
                                         than it is because things would have been sta-
                                         tus quo,” said Johnston, who heads the South-                                                                              Photo by Jennifer Davis Rash
                                         east Law Institute. “You would have seen
                                         gamblers putting money into elections to get “The pro-gambling people want to get the                 don’t go to the polls, you’re voting for the
                                         their (gambling) bills passed (in the upcom- courts to be made up of people that will rule            other guy.”
                                         ing legislative session). They don’t want to in their favor when these issues come up.                   Although Godfrey said most people he
                                         talk about it. … It’s almost like gambling is They want legislators that will pass laws that          talks to across the state do not want to let
                                         not on the radar right now.”                       will favor gambling, and if they can get legis-    gambling “get a foothold” in the state, some
                                            Although the gambling debate significant- lators elected that support gambling they will           may be letting the economy guide their vot-
                                         ly cooled down after word spread about the get laws passed that will legalize all forms of            ing plans.
                                         FBI’s investigations, Johnston believes the is- gambling they want in this state because they            Godfrey acknowledged the importance of
                                         sue is not yet put to bed.                         will make more money from more people and          having a good economy but said, “Morals are
                                            “It will be back again,” he                                       line their own pockets.”         important, too, and we don’t need to lower
                                         said. “It’s like some kind of                                           Even if the candidates con-   our moral expectations concerning candi-
                                         cancer. You can treat it, get                                        tinue avoiding the gambling      dates and platforms of candidates just for the
                                         it in remission and think it’s “[Gambling is] not                    issue while the FBI moves        economy.”
                                         going to go away; but there it                                       forward with its investiga-         He added, “If our economy is strong and
                                         is all of a sudden back again. going to go away                      tions, both Godfrey and John-    we don’t have any moral underpinnings, the
                                         [Gambling] has been so big in                                        ston urge Alabama citizens       amount of money you have won’t matter.
                                         past legislative sessions that because a few                         to find out how their local,     … As Christians we are our brothers’ keep-
                                         you know it’s just not going to                                      county and state candidates      ers, and we ought to be concerned about our
                                         go away because a few people people got indicted.”                   will deal with gambling.
                                                                                                                                               brothers and sisters being taken advantage of
                                         got indicted. There’s too much                      Eric Johnston       “Check out who is run-
                                                                                                                                               by the gambling bosses.”
 ‘Bingo’ probe: All
                                         money and too much oppor-                 Southeast Law Institute ning in your district and find
                                         tunity. … Even if the bigger                                         out where they stand on the         In the end, Johnston believes Alabama will
                                         people go to jail, somebody                                          gambling issue,” Johnston        continue the conservative momentum he sees

11 plead ‘not guilty’                    will step in and take their                                          said. “If they are against it,   occurring in voting habits across the country.
                                         place. That’s why we have to put the nail in you need to share that information with your                “I think you’ve seen where there are vi-
                                         the coffin and get people elected who won’t friends and relatives. … Elect people you can             able candidates running against the incum-

T    he 11 lawmakers, gambling
     bosses, lobbyists and others who
were arrested Oct. 4 in a FBI “bingo”
                                         entertain the gambling bills.”
                                            Joe Godfrey, executive director of Alabama
                                                                                            trust to keep it from coming back.”
                                                                                               Godfrey said all eligible Alabamians
                                         Citizens Action Program, believes gambling should vote no matter what they believe about
                                                                                                                                               bents, and they are able to get some money
                                                                                                                                               and support (because) … some people want
                                                                                                                                               to see change,” he said. “In Alabama, I hope
probe and charged with a vote-buying     bosses and machine manufacturers are still gambling.                                                  they (voters) have seen the dominance of the
scheme all pleaded not guilty in fed-    putting money into the political campaigns            “The election for any office will go to the     gamblers and those kinds of people in the
eral court in Montgomery on Oct. 15.     of candidates who “are sensitive to allowing person who has the most people voting for                Statehouse, and this is an opportunity to get
   A trial date of April 4 was set for   gambling to expand in this state.”                 him or her,” he said. “Therefore we need to go     rid of them and do the good business of the
all 11 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Wal-        “They feel that they are going to weather to the polls and exercise our rights and fulfill         people of the state and not do businesses for
lace Capel Jr.                  (TAB)    this storm, and they tend to feel that they are our responsibility as citizens of this country        the special interests of the state who domi-
                                         above the law a lot of times,” Godfrey noted. and state and as followers of Christ. If you            nant totally what’s going on down there.”
Page 8 / The alabama baPTisT / OcTOber 21, 2010
                                                                            Gambling in Alabama


‘Off the reservation’
Does U.S. Supreme Court opinion make Poarch Creeks subject to county, state law?
By A. Eric Johnston                                 law. In other words, they do not expect to see      ruled that “now” meant June 1, 1934. Con-            Etowah County for the purpose of opening a
southeast law institute                             state criminal investigators on Indian proper-      sequently, the Narragansett Indians who are          casino. Although Etowah County has a bingo


I
     n the old western movies, settlers were        ty checking out their operations. But is their      seeking to develop their property are subject        amendment, it should be limited to paper
     always concerned when the Indians were         belief correct?                                     to local building laws.                              card bingo.
     “off the reservation.” In other words, the        A February 24, 2009, United States Su-              What does this mean for the Poarch Creek             Southeast Law Institute can only act as a
Indians may be up to no good. A legal ques-         preme Court opinion could change all that.          gambling operations? There is no published           conscience in this. We have no authority to
tion now exists about whether, in effect, the       Writing for the majority in Carceiri v. Salaz-      legal opinion on this, but consider what it may      interpret, investigate and prosecute criminal
Poarch Band of Creek Indians are off the res-       er, 129 S.Ct. 1058 (2009), Justice Clarence         mean. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians was           laws. That job must be left to the state attor-
ervation with their gambling activities.            Thomas delivered an opinion that could bring        not recognized as an Indian tribe until 1983.        ney general.
   In recent years we have all learned the sig-     drastic change to whether Indians are subject                                                               Law enforcement officials should be en-
nificance of gambling in Alabama.                   to state and local laws, whether on or off their    Prohibiting gambling operations                      forcing laws against gambling proliferation,
   The Poarch Creeks have significant gam-          land, which they would call their “reserva-           Therefore they would not be an Indian tribe        including now the spread of Indian gambling.
bling operations in Escambia and Elmore             tion.” The 21-page opinion focused on the           for purposes of the Indian regulatory laws and       The opportunity is there and our government
counties. They were no doubt concerned that         meaning of the word “now.” This is not as           the definition of tribal lands. Unless IGRA          should do the right thing.
recent attempts to legalize “electronic bingo”      trivial as it sounds.                               preempts IRA, Carceiri would impact Ala-
would have given them stiff competition.               The federal law regulating Indian land, the      bama Poarch Creek gambling. Poarch Creek
                                                                                                                                                                EDITOR’S NOTE — Johnston wrote this
                                                    Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), defined In-        gambling operations in both Escambia and
Regulated by IGRA                                   dian to “include all persons of Indian descent      Elmore counties would be subject to state and        piece in July 2009. He said at press time that
   This is true because Indian gambling is          who are members of any recognized Indian            local laws. This would include all Alabama           nothing has been done about the case in Ala-
regulated by the Indian Gaming Regulatory           tribe now under federal jurisdiction, and all       constitutional, statutory, and county and city       bama because ‘until we deal with gambling
Act (IGRA). IGRA classifies three levels of         persons who are descendants of such mem-            regulatory laws. And more specifically, we           elsewhere in the state, trying to deal with the
gambling: Class I permits social games for          bers who were, on June 1, 1934, residing            believe the state constitutional provisions in       Poarch Creek makes no sense.’
minimal value; Class II permits bingo gam-          under the present boundaries of any Indian          Article IV, § 65, 1901 Constitution of Ala-             The American Bar Association said: ‘The
bling subject only to the National Indian           reservation.” The argument was on whether           bama prohibiting games of chance, would              most immediate impact of the Carcieri land-
Gaming Commission (there is also the ques-          “now” strictly meant Indians recognized as          prohibit their gambling operations. Please           into-trust decision is its effect on tribal gam-
tion of whether this bingo may be electronic);      such in 1934, or did it mean Indians who            recall that the only games of chance in Ala-         ing activity. Because trust status for Indian
Class III permits high stakes gambling of ev-       would be recognized at any future time.             bama are games of bingo permitted in the             lands is usually a precursor for gaining the
ery description if otherwise allowed in the            In the Carceiri case, the Narragansett Tribe     18 counties with constitutional amendments           necessary approvals under IGRA, tribes that
host state.                                         in Rhode Island were arguing that land they         permitting such bingo. Neither Escambia              are no longer able to use the IRA land ac-
   Because Alabama does not have Class III          acquired in 1988 was not subject to local           nor Elmore counties have bingo permitted in          quisition mechanism likely will need new,
gambling, the Indians cannot. They must be          building laws. The Narragansett Indians had         any form. This does not only affect the Po-          special legislation to conduct gaming activi-
satisfied with the Class II bingo which they        not been formally recognized by the federal         arch Creeks. The Cherokee Indians recently           ties on any newly acquired, nonreservation
say, electronic or not, is exempt from state        government until 1983. The Supreme Court            purchased the River Trace Golf Course in             lands.’


Indian gambling money ‘transparent,’ officials say                                                                                                                    Exerpts from an
By Sondra Washington
The alabama baptist

                                         Regulations for use of Indian
                                                                                                                              paying nearly $42 million
                                                                                                                              in payroll and generating                advertisement
S    ince slot machine-
     style gambling be-
                                                                                                                              1,268 direct jobs and 6,292
                                                                                                                              indirect jobs through its                  found at
gan taking root in the
state, many people have
                                             gambling revenues                                                                casinos. That same year,
                                                                                                                              the casinos paid more than          www.alabamacasinos.com
speculated about the            The Poarch Band of Creek Indians shall use the revenues from any tribal                       $76 million in federal taxes
amount of money the
casinos were bringing
in and giving to charity
                                   gambling operation only for one or more of the following purposes:
                                            (1) tribal operations or programs,
                                                                                                                              and more than $17 million
                                                                                                                              in state taxes. These taxes
                                                                                                                              are for payroll and goods
                                                                                                                                                              “   T    here are several types of gambling
                                                                                                                                                                       found in Alabama. The most pop-
                                                                                                                                                                  ular form of gambling in Alabama is
each month. The games                       (2) the general welfare of the tribe and its members,                             and services. They are not          bingo which is one of the more popular
were supposed to raise                      (3) the operation of local governmental agencies,                                 income taxes.                       numbers game. There are also slot ma-
money for this purpose.                     (4) charitable organizations and/or                                                 What is not included in           chines. Definitely, you will find a small
   A glimpse into Ala-                      (5) economic development.                                                         the study — and officials           amount of everything in Alabama.
bama’s big-money gam-                                                                                                         would not comment on —              There are a few Indian casinos.
bling profits was revealed                                    Source: Poarch Creek Tribal Gaming Ordinance, 1993, and IGRA    is the amount of money                 Since 1999, thousands of video
when a federal court rul-                                                                                                     brought in by the casinos           poker machines have appeared across
ing stated that Shorter’s                                                                                                     and how much profit is              Alabama. This is a fast-action, low-
VictoryLand casino gave less than 1 percent of (and) we have ... audits ... to make sure every-          made. PCI Gaming did invest more than $200               stakes game that is as easy to play as a
its $126 million 2007 revenue to charities.        thing is being done properly,” he said.               million into the opening of Wind Creek Casino            slot machine. These machines pay off
   And while the state’s so-called charity elec-      McGhee said it costs about $20 million to          & Hotel, but there’s no detailed information             winners in coupon or gift certificates.
tronic bingo facilities hid their earnings and run the tribe’s three branches of government              available about the profits going to the PCI             Several businesses in Alabama such
donations from public view, officials with the and support its 3,000 members, and the casinos            Gaming operation.                                        as truck stops, convenience stores, a
Poarch Band of Creek Indians say they have to generate most of that money. Gambling money                   Still Todd Stacy, press secretary for Gov.            few arcades and some other businesses
be transparent with the U.S. Department of the also helps fund the fire department, emergency            Bob Riley, said the negative impact of gam-              have been offering these video poker
Interior about where the money from its three management operation, senior center and ser-               bling is greater than the revenue that might be          machines.
casinos goes.                                      vices, social services, health services, recre-       generated.                                                  Even though, there are not many
   The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires ational facilities, etc.                                       “The evidence is irrefutable. Casinos are a           casinos found in Alabama, the casi-
tribes to use net revenues from any tribal gam-                                                          drain on local and state economies,” he said,            nos located in Alabama do offer craps,
bling “to fund tribal government operations or $270 million-plus business                                pointing to the economic, social and political           roulette, poker, blackjack a variety of
programs, to provide for the general welfare of       A Feb. 12 economic impact study performed          prices paid as jobs are lost, crime rates sky-           slots and more. They are open 24 hours
the Indian tribe and its members, to promote by Geiger Johns Associates LLC showed the                   rocket and gambling bosses acquire power.                a day.
tribal economic development, to donate to effects of Indian gambling in Alabama. Geiger                     On the tribe’s website, Tribal Chairman Bu-              One popular casino found in Atmore
charitable organizations or to help fund opera- Johns is an American Indian-owned business               ford Rolin said, “We are proud to be able to             … offers the largest high stakes Indian
tions of local government agencies.”               research and consulting firm based in New             contribute to our state by helping provide for           bingo in the South and the newest state-
   So that means every year the Poarch Creek York and Washington, which specializes in                   education and public safety. We work hard to             of-the-art electronic gaming machines.
Indians have to submit a revenue allocation American Indian gaming.                                      ensure that Alabamians maintain their quality            There is also the Riverside Entertain-
plan to the Department of the Interior, detailing     According to the study, in 2009, Indian gam-       of life. As the gospel says, ‘To whom much               ment Center … located in Wetumpka.
where the money goes, said Robert McGhee, bling, operated through PCI (Poarch Creek                      is given, much is expected.’ And we are ever                The casinos in this state are competi-
governmental relations adviser for the tribe.      Indian) Gaming, spent nearly $145 million on          mindful of that when we donate to charitable             tive.”
   “[The plan] goes through several boards, Alabama goods and services, which included                   causes around our state.”
                                                                                                                                                   OctOber 21, 2010 / the AlAbAmA bAptist / pAge 9
                                                                              Gambling in Alabama

                                                                                                          Twenty-eight states have
                                                                                                          some form of Indian gambling
                                                                                                          I
                                                                                                               ndian gambling is a multibillion dollar         The law established regulations for Indian
                                                                             Indian                            business in America.
                                                                                                                 Reports show this industry began be-
                                                                                                                                                               gambling operations “to shield [them] from
                                                                                                                                                               organized crime and other corrupting influ-

                                                                          gambling                        ing regulated in 1987 when the U.S. Supreme
                                                                                                          Court ruled in a California case that Ameri-
                                                                                                          can Indians could offer any form of gambling
                                                                                                                                                               ences, to ensure that the Indian tribe is the
                                                                                                                                                               primary beneficiary of the gaming operation
                                                                                                                                                               and to assure that gaming is conducted fairly
                                                                         across the                       allowed anywhere in a state without state
                                                                                                          regulation.
                                                                                                                                                               and honestly by both the operator and play-
                                                                                                                                                               ers.”
                                                                       United States                         According to a 1997 USA Today article,
                                                                                                          “What this meant, in effect, was that if a state
                                                                                                                                                                  IGRA also established the National Indian
                                                                                                                                                               Gaming Commission (NIGC) to oversee the
                                                                                 (marked in gray)
                                                                                                          allowed volunteer fire departments to conduct        regulations established by IGRA.
                                                                                                          occasional low-stakes Las Vegas nights, then            Yet in states like Alabama where bingo
                               Alabama           Idaho             Montana          Oregon                an Indian tribe in that state could sponsor 24-      gambling is allowed, individual tribes are “the
                               Alaska            Iowa              Nebraska         Oklahoma              hour, high-stakes casino gambling.”                  primary regulators” of their Class II games,
                               Arizona           Kansas            Nevada           South Dakota             One year after the Supreme Court’s ruling,        which include the machines being called
                               California        Louisiana         New Mexico       Texas                 Congress enacted the Indian Gaming Regula-           electronic bingo in Alabama. Such practices
                               Colorado          Michigan          New York         Washington            tory Act (IGRA) to allow “the operation of           have been frowned upon in other Alabama ca-
                               Connecticut       Minnesota         North Carolina   Wisconsin             gaming by Indian tribes as a means of pro-           sinos operating slot machine-style gambling
                               Florida           Mississippi       North Dakota     Wyoming               moting tribal economic development, self-            devices because of the large amount of mon-
                                                                                                          sufficiency and strong tribal governments.”          ey made by the casinos each month. (TAB)


Fully automated ‘electronic bingo’ machines ‘not permissible’
I  n a letter to state senators and representatives
   dated Oct. 30, 2009, dealing with “electronic
bingo” and Alabama’s Indian reservations,
                                                      the mistaken impression in Washington that
                                                      slot machine gambling of the ‘electronic bingo’
                                                      variety is permissible in Alabama. But if we ag-
                                                                                                          field investigator had discovered several of
                                                                                                          these Class III fully automated ‘bingo’ slots
                                                                                                          ... . This letter could and should have been the
                                                                                                                                                               ‘fully electronic, fully automated, multi-player
                                                                                                                                                               bingo games’ in Alaska.
                                                                                                                                                                  “Mr. Hogen explained: ‘[T]he gaming equip-
Gov. Bob Riley explained his understanding of         gressively enforce state law and the Alabama        state’s first clue that the federal government was   ment performs those functions traditionally
the law. Excerpts from that letter follow.            Supreme Court upholds it, the federal govern-       keenly interested in whether the state would en-     performed by the operator, such as drawing the
                                                      ment will have no sound basis for continuing        force state law against these machines before        numbers, and those traditionally performed by
  4“According to the National Indian Gaming           to allow Indian casinos to flout the federal law
Commission (NIGC) — the federal agency re-                                                                the NIGC would take any enforcement action           the players, such as covering numbers called
                                                      against Class III gambling in Alabama.”             against Indian casinos.                              and claiming a prize. I conclude that a game
sponsible for interpreting and enforcing Indian
gaming law — fully automated ‘electronic bin-                                                                 “The law explained in the NIGC letter is         so designed does not meet IGRA’s statutory
                                                         4“Over five years ago, on Oct. 19, 2004, the
go’ machines are not permissible Class II bingo       NIGC informed Attorney General (Troy) King,         backed by several official NIGC rulings. For         definition of Class II bingo, does not meet the
games, but Class III slot machines, which ordi-       in writing, that a fully automated electronic       example, as recently as June 2008, NIGC Chair-       NIGC’s definition of Class II ‘game similar to
narily require a state-tribe compact.”                ‘bingo’ machine in which a player ‘would in-        man Phil Hogen denied the Metlakatla Indian          bingo,’ and is, in fact, a Class III facsimile of a
                                                      sert money into the machine, press the play but-    Tribe’s application for permission to operate        game of chance [i.e., a slot machine].”
   4“We have been informed that the only rea-
son the federal government is allowing Indian         ton and the game would play by itself’ is not
                                                      bingo under federal law and NIGC guidance.
casinos in Alabama to run Class III ‘electronic
                                                      The NIGC explained to Mr. King in very clear           Who regulates Indian                                 Indian gambling must be conducted
bingo’ slot machines today is because the same                                                                                                                 on Indian lands within a tribes’ jurisdic-
form of gambling is going on — and has been           terms that ‘[g]ames played in this manner do           gaming?                                           tion. Indian lands are defined as all lands
tolerated for years — at non-Indian facilities        not meet our understanding of a Class II elec-            Indian tribes are the primary regulators       within the limits of any Indian reservation
across the state.”                                    tronic bingo game. Our advisory opinions have          of Class II gambling. Regulation of Class         and any lands’ title to which is either held
                                                      emphasized the need for players to participate         III gambling may be addressed in the Trib-        in trust by the United States for the benefit
  4“In other words, previous failures to en-          in the bingo game by taking further actions to         al-State compacts and varies by state with        of any Indian tribe or individual or held
force the state’s anti-gambling laws has created      cover the numbers on the cards.’ ... An NIGC           the tribes remaining the primary regulator        by any Indian tribe or individual subject
                                                                                                             in most states. Both Class II and Class III       to restriction by the United States against

      What comes to mind when                                                                                gambling are subject to the provisions of
                                                                                                             IGRA and oversight by the National In-
                                                                                                             dian Gaming Commission.
                                                                                                                                                               alienation and over which an Indian tribe
                                                                                                                                                               exercises government power.
                                                                                                                                                                   The tribe must submit a tribal gambling

      you hear the word casino?                                                                              What process must a tribe
                                                                                                             follow to operate a gambling
                                                                                                                                                               ordinance to the Commission. The ordi-
                                                                                                                                                               nance must provide, among other things,
                                                                                                                                                               that: (1) the tribe will have the sole pro-
T    he Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ gam-
     bling facility near Atmore is the first
in the state to use the word “casino” in the
                                                      Class III gambling in the future? Or is it just a
                                                      marketing strategy?
                                                         Birmingham attorney Eric Johnston said he
                                                                                                             facility?
                                                                                                                The tribe must determine whether the
                                                                                                                                                               prietary interest and responsibility for
                                                                                                                                                               conducting gambling, (2) net revenues
                                                                                                                                                               will be used for specific purposes, (3) an-
name. Others have since followed, including           believes it is a strategy.                             state in which the gambling facility is to be     nual outside audits will be conducted, and
the other two Poarch Creek gambling facili-              “Just [like] the nature of the ‘bingo’ gam-         located permits such gambling. If the state       (4) a process for licensing and conducting
ties in Wetumpka and Montgomery.                      bling machines located there, it is misleading         permits gambling by any person, organi-           background checks is in place. The chair-
   But when one hears the word “casino,” im-          and is meant to entice persons in for the pur-         zation or entity, then tribes are allowed to      man of the NIGC must approve an ordi-
ages of Las Vegas-style facilities with lots of       pose of gambling,” he said.                            conduct Class II gambling activities with-        nance before gambling can occur.
glitz and glamour come to mind. Wind Creek               “It gives a grand name to, at best, a pedes-        out state approval. If the tribe wishes to
Hotel & Casino does offer luxury, state-of-           trian operation, though nevertheless destruc-          conduct Class III gambling, a Tribal-State                            Source: National Indian
the-art accommodations, but the “casino”              tive.”                                                 compact must be negotiated.                                              Gaming Commission
section would certainly pale in comparison to            However, the use of the word “casino” is
Las Vegas.                                            not prohibited by law, Johnston explained. “It
   The slot machine-style gambling is being           is merely descriptive of the type of facility.
hotly debated as to whether it crosses the               “The word “casino” is not defined by Ala-
line into Class III gambling, thus making it          bama law,” he said. “Particularly it is not a
illegal. PCI (Poarch Creek Indian) Gaming,            term with legal meaning in the gambling
which operates the gambling industry on the           chapter of the Alabama Criminal Code. Ca-
reservations, claims the machines are Class II        sino is an Italian word originally referring to
and thus legal.                                       a private vacation home but coming to mean
   But this seems to be a contradiction. If the       a public room used for social meetings. In
facility is operating Class II gambling, then         the contemporary American lexicon, we have
why is it using a name that indicates it has          come to associate the word with a place where
Class III gambling? Is it because it really           the primary activity is gambling but with at-
does have Class III gambling or plans to have         tendant entertainment, dining, etc.”      (TAB)
Page 4 / The alabama baPTisT / ocTober 28, 2010




                                                  Define grass-roots effort
                                                  Are large groups of ‘gambling supporters’ being paid to show up?
                                                  By Sondra Washington
                                                  The alabama baptist



                                                  A
                                                           re the tactics being used to convince
                                                           Alabamians to legalize and expand
                                                           gambling a grass-roots movement of
                                                  the people, as some have claimed, or a scheme
                                                  of a few hoping to score big in business? Gam-
                                                  bling opponents say a deeper look into the
                                                  rallies, marches, commercials, concerts and
                                                  big-name guest speakers pushing the gambling
                                                  cause across the state may reveal efforts steered
                                                  by a handful of moneymakers and politicians

   Riley goes after                               — not the community at large.
                                                     Last year, an Enterprise-based group called
                                                  the Sweet Home Alabama Coalition began run-
    Indian ‘bingo’                                ning commercials calling for taxation on slot
                                                  machine-style gambling being called electronic

   A     ll major casino-style, slot ma-          bingo. Later it was discovered that casino de-
         chine-type gambling facilities in        veloper Ronnie Gilley was behind the group,
   the state are shut down, at least all the      which was founded to promote gambling bills
   ones not on an Indian reservation.             legalizing and expanding the activity at Hous-
      But if Gov. Bob Riley has anything          ton County’s Country Crossing development
   to do with it, then the three facilities run   and other venues across the state.                                                                                                     Photo by Robin Cooper

   by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in            “I wouldn’t doubt if they spent several mil-     gAmbling proponents interrupt Anti-gAmbling rAlly — Gov. Bob Riley (at
   Atmore, Wetumpka and Montgomery                lion dollars on ads,” said Birmingham attorney      podium) yells over protesters who interrupted a Feb. 23 anti-gambling rally held on the State-
   will be closed soon. He plans to ask           Eric Johnston, who also directs Citizens for a      house steps in Montgomery. Their own rally was scheduled to take place after this rally.
   federal officials to shut down the ma-         Better Alabama (CBA). “I think the goal, by the
   chines being labeled electronic bingo.         gamblers running those ads, was to deceive the         But when Alabama Citizens Action Pro-                were led by gambling interests or those who
      John Tyson, commander of the Gov-           public and make them think it was grass-roots       gram (ALCAP) and CBA tried to hold an an-               stood to benefit from gambling whether they
   ernor’s Task Force on Illegal Gam-             efforts. … Their ads were meant to get support      ti-gambling rally on the Statehouse steps Feb.          are owners of the operations or the attorneys
   bling, said, “We’ve said all along that        for the bills that they wanted. The whole pur-      23, several busloads of pro-gambling Alabam-            representing them.
   we were to establish clearly that the          pose of the bill was to legalize and monopolize     ians arrived and out-yelled ALCAP and CBA’s                “A grass-roots movement in a down econo-
   state of Alabama outlaws slot machines         the bingo gambling that’s already going on in       speakers, including Gov. Bob Riley and first            my is not going to be able to put together the
   and we have the [authority to enforce          the state. … What they (gambling bosses) were       lady Patsy Riley, as they attempted to address          type of funding required to launch that type of
   the law].                                      trying to do is save their bacon. … They knew       the crowd.                                              a campaign,” he said.
      “The (Oct. 4) federal indictment (of        they were going to lose.”                              “It was obvious that they had been instructed
                                                     After several years of fighting gambling on      to shout down all our speakers because no-              Jackson, Sharpton appear
   11 people arrested in an FBI ‘bingo’
                                                  the state level, Johnston founded CBA, which        body acts that way,” said Joe Godfrey, execu-              During the anniversary of Bloody Sunday in
   probe) explains in better detail that
                                                  ran advertisements to show the state’s residents    tive director of ALCAP. And the signs used by           March, pro-gambling forces held marches and
   what we are battling here is not just il-
                                                  the negatives surrounding gambling and the          pro-gambling attendees appeared to be profes-           rallies to promote gambling — two of which
   legal gambling; it is corruption in the
                                                  legislation drafted to expand it.                   sionally printed while the signs used by people         were said to be for the sake of protecting jobs
   state of Alabama and we’ve made quite
                                                     “We were just running ads because the bills      supporting ALCAP and CBA were homemade,                 and voting rights and led by two nationally re-
   a bit of progress in that regard,” Tyson                                                                                                                   nown civil rights activists, Jesse Jackson and
                                                  were bad,” Johnston said. “Our supporters had       he added.
   said. “Now it’s time for us to take these                                                                                                                  Al Sharpton.
                                                  no stake in it at all. They were just good Chris-      “Who produced the signs?” Godfrey asked.
   developments to the Indian Gaming                                                                  “We could not afford buses. Our people got off             According to The Birmingham News, the
                                                  tian businessmen, and [CBA] was not (funded
   Commission and insist that they en-            by) any Indian gambling money. [Gambling            from work and drove their personal vehicles             “pro-bingo campaign” was reportedly “orga-
   force Alabama law as well.                     bosses] were trying to create a monopoly that       great distances. There were some church vans,           nized by former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford
      “We have planned from day one to do         was not subject to the law of this state and        but for the most part, it was individuals who           (who, afterward, lost his race for the Alabama
   that, so when the governor is speaking         that exempted them from the Alabama crimi-          drove themselves and carpooled to get there. …          Senate) and Montgomery businessman Greg
   now it’s not a new idea,” he said. “It’s       nal code, the statutes of the state, the Alabama    I did hear people say they were employees of            Calhoun.”
   just an announcement of the plan he’s          Constitution and the decisions of the Alabama       casinos and had been laid off, and I would as-             Jackson spoke to crowds gathered in front
   had from the beginning. We are prepar-         Supreme Court.”                                     sume they were paid by the casino owners to             of Fairfield City Hall and on the steps of the
   ing for those arguments right now.”                                                                be there.”                                              Alabama Capitol. He also led a march in Mont-
      Tyson said the next step is likely a        Busing in ‘supporters’                                 Johnston also believes the gambling forces           gomery.
   personal visit to the National Indian            During the past few legislative sessions, pro-    are “orchestrating” the rallies.                           According to The News, Jackson said, “We
   Gaming Commission in Washington.               gambling forces were also said to be the culprit       “It s not people from all parts of the state (par-   demand jobs and justice and voting rights.”
      Officials with PCI (Poarch Creek In-        behind the large number of Alabama citizens         ticipating) — just people from Macon, Greene               The newspaper also reported that “march-
   dians) Gaming in Atmore could not be           brought to the Statehouse on charter buses to       and Houston counties,” he said. “A grass-roots          ers included employees from VictoryLand and
   reached by press time, but PCI Gaming          support gambling expansion bills at public          effort means that it comes from the people ...          Country Crossing.”
   President Jay Dorris was quoted by The         hearings. Most of the citizens came from Hous-      who have a concern. It’s not orchestrated by the           According to the All American Talent and
   Birmingham News as saying, “Bingo,             ton, Greene or Macon counties, the homes of         people who have a special interest.”                    Celebrity Network, Jackson’s booking fee is
   as we play it, is acceptable.”        (TAB)    Country Crossing near Dothan; Greenetrack in           Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon           more than $50,000. Neither Jackson nor Sharp-
                                                  Eutaw; and VictoryLand in Shorter.                  Falls said, “I believe [the people at the rallies]      ton’s offices responded to interview requests.
                                                                                                                                                      october 28, 2010 / the AlAbAmA bAptist / pAge 5




    What the                                 State governments become ‘addicted to gambling
   Bible says                                dollars,’ facing negative returns in current economy
 about gambling                              By Sondra Washington
                                             the Alabama baptist
                                                                                                     their gambling efforts to combat the “drop in
                                                                                                     gambling revenue” and “keep their cut of the
                                                                                                                                                                  worst recession in a generation during 2009,
                                                                                                                                                                  consumers cut back on their discretionary


                                             P
                                                    eople are not alone in their addiction to        profits rolling in.”                                         spending, and those shrinking travel and lei-
By Pastor Gary Fenton                               gambling. Recent trends show govern-                Although Iowa is said to receive about $300               sure budgets led to a decline in gross gaming
Dawson memorial baptist church, birmingham
                                                    ments can also become addicted once              million from gambling each year, State Rep.                  revenues for the second consecutive year,” the
I  s gambling morally wrong since it
   is not specifically mentioned in the
Bible?”
                                             they start depending on gambling for revenue.
                                             And numerous reports reveal that decreased
                                                                                                     Kraig Paulsen reportedly told AP, “Absolute-
                                                                                                     ly, we’re addicted to gambling dollars. The
                                                                                                                                                                  AGA reported in its State of the States Survey
                                                                                                                                                                  of Casino Entertainment. “A majority of states
                                                                                                                                                                  followed the national trend and saw their gam-
                                             betting at casinos and gambling establish-              current budget couldn’t be close to being bal-
   There are many specific issues that       ments across the nation is leaving many states          anced without that money.”                                   ing revenues diminish in 2009, and all mar-
are not mentioned by name in the Bible,      scrambling for ways to replace the revenue                                                                           kets were affected to some extent by the drop
yet we know, in principle, they are mor-     they’ve depended on for years.                          ‘Don’t want to give it up’                                   in consumer spending.”
ally wrong. The words “computer hack-           According to the American Gaming Asso-                 Birmingham attorney Eric Johnston said,                       Even though gambling has existed in many
ing,” “infringement of copyright” and        ciation (AGA), 48 states plus the District of           “The economy gets addicted to the tax dollars                areas for years, evidence of its positive effects
“prescription drug addiction” are not        Columbia have some form of legalized gam-               they get from it. It’s a source of revenue they              may be hard to find.
mentioned by name in the Bible. How-         bling. In 2007, gambling gross revenue ex-              begin to get. Once you begin to get that tax,                   The AGA publication revealed that although
ever, when we look at the overarching        ceeded $92 billion, but the states need more            you don’t want to give it up.”                               Nevada has more casinos than all other states
biblical principles, we know they are        money.                                                    But experts have no way of knowing when                    combined, other sources report that it leads the
wrong. Gambling is a similar issue.             The Associated Press (AP) reports that               or if the gambling climate will improve.                     nation in unemployment, foreclosures, bank-
   4Gambling does not promote char-          many states are moving toward expanding                   “As the United States grappled with the                    ruptcy filings and credit card delinquency.
acter; in fact, gambling actually dimin-                                                                                                                          And two of Nevada’s cities with the largest
ishes character. Gambling, by its very                                                                                                                            unemployment rates are Las Vegas and Reno.
nature, is based on chance. Character,
however, always involves choice. We
                                              Types of legalized gambling in each state and D.C.                                                                     Similarly, Mississippi, which has been men-
                                                                                                                                                                  tioned numerous times as an example of suc-
work to make a living and to benefit                                                                    Class II and III                                          cessful gambling by Alabama’s pro-gambling
others (see Eph. 2:10 and 1 Pet. 1:13–                                     Pari-mutuel       Commercial Indian Gaming Racetrack Charitable                        politicians, has struggled to rise in state rank-
16).                                                                 Slots wagering Lotteries Casinos      Facilities    Casinos Gaming                           ings, even with its gambling revenue.
   4Gambling disproportionately im-           Alabama                 a	      a	         	             	                 a	                 	            a           According to The Meridian Star, “casino
pacts the poor. It appeals to desperate       Alaska                  a	       	         	             	                 a	                 	            a        gaming was a $2.4 billion industry in Missis-
people and entices needy people with          Arizona                 a	      a	        a	             	                 a	                 	            a        sippi in 2009,” but Mississippi has consistent-
the promise of reward without labor. To       Arkansas                        a	        a	             	                  	                 	            a        ly had one of the highest poverty levels and
take advantage of the poor and to exploit     California              a	      a	        a	             	                 a	                 	            a        lowest education levels among the states.
the needy is strongly condemned in the        Colorado                a	      a	        a	            a	                 a	                 	            a
Bible (see Prov. 22:16, Prov. 31:8–9          Connecticut             a	      a	        a	             	                 a	                 	            a        Mississippi ‘still at the bottom’
and the book of Amos). Also once the          Delaware                a	      a	        a	             	                  	                a	            a           “Even with all the money coming from
                                              District of Columbia                      a	             	                  	                 	            a        gambling each year, … they (Mississippi) are
state makes gambling a source of in-
                                              Florida                 a	      a	        a	             	                 a	                a	            a        still at the bottom of the heap,” Johnston said.
come, your political leaders then have a
                                              Georgia                                   a	             	                  	                 	            a        “The big problem is the cost of the gambling
vested interest in promoting gambling.
                                              Idaho                   a	      a	        a	             	                 a	                 	            a        industry goes way up to handle all of the prob-
The more money you lose, the more             Illinois                a	      a	        a	            a	                  	                 	            a
money they have to spend. Legalized                                                                                                                               lems that occur. … You’ve got a lot of extra
                                              Indiana                 a	      a	        a	            a	                  	                a	            a        costs for the government that go with it.”
gambling inevitably becomes state-en-         Iowa                    a	      a	        a	            a	                 a	                a	            a
couraged gambling. The more citizens                                                                                                                                 Alabama’s Greene County is no exception.
                                              Kansas                  a	      a	        a	            a	                 a	                 	            a           “Out of their own mouths (at the public
lose, the greater the need they have to       Kentucky                        a	        a	             	                  	                 	            a
gamble thus enabling addiction.                                                                                                                                   hearing meeting for this year’s gambling ex-
                                              Louisiana               a	      a	        a	            a	                 a	                a	            a
   4Gambling violates the Golden                                                                                                                                  pansion bill), they (Greene County residents
                                              Maine                   a	      a	        a	             	                  	                a	            a
Rule in that gambling requires that                                                                                                                               and officials) talked about how poor they were
                                              Maryland                        a	        a	             	                  	                 	            a
someone loses. Taking financial risk is                                                                                                                           and how they needed gambling for money,”
                                              Massachusetts                   a	        a	             	                  	                 	            a
not the same as gambling. When you            Michigan                a	      a	        a	            a	                 a	                 	            a
                                                                                                                                                                  Johnston said. “If it’s so good, why don’t they
risk capital to start a new company, your     Minnesota               a	      a	        a	             	                 a	                 	            a
                                                                                                                                                                  all have big fancy cars and new houses and
potential for success increases if your       Mississippi             a	       	         	            a	                 a	                 	            a
                                                                                                                                                                  nice streets and beautiful public buildings?
customer benefits from your product or        Missouri                a	       	        a	            a	                 a	                 	            a        But they don’t have any of that stuff. It’s still
service. At its best, capitalism is win–      Montana                 a	      a	        a	             	                 a	                 	            a        very economically depressed, and they’ve had
                                              Nebraska                                                                                                            gambling for years.”
win. But in gambling, the more people                                 a	      a	        a	             	                 a	                 	            a
                                              Nevada                                                                                                                 Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon
lose and the more money they lose in-                                 a	      a	         	            a	                 a	                 	            a
                                              New Hampshire                   a	        a	             	                  	                 	            a        Falls added, “At least two municipalities (in
creases the amount of money you are
                                              New Jersey              a	      a	        a	            a	                  	                 	            a        Jefferson County) have expressed anger over
likely to win. In a gambling economy,                                                                                                                             the closings of the bingo parlors and stated
the more others fail, the better your         New Mexico              a	      a	        a	             	                 a	                a	            a
                                              New York                a	      a	        a	             	                 a	                a	            a        that they needed that funding to operate the
chance is to succeed. In a healthy and                                                                                                                            city. One was in my jurisdiction (Tarrant),
                                              North Carolina          a	       	        a	             	                 a	                 	            a
growing economy, the more others suc-                                                                                                                             and one was in the Bessemer jurisdiction
                                              North Dakota            a	      a	        a	             	                 a	                 	            a
ceed, the more likely you are to benefit                                                                                                                          (Fairfield). … I think they were deceived by
                                              Ohio                            a	        a	             	                  	                 	            a
and succeed.                                  Oklahoma                a	      a	        a	             	                 a	                a	            a        the gambling interests who led them to be-
   4Gambling historically brings cor-         Oregon                  a	      a	        a	             	                 a	                 	            a        lieve that their operations would be legal. …
ruption, crime and addiction. Gambling        Pennsylvania            a	      a	        a	            a	                  	                a	            a        and they were willing to do this because they
has not been good for society. If we          Rhode Island            a	      a	        a	             	                  	                a	            a        needed the revenue.
are serious about applying the teach-         South Carolina                            a	             	                  	                 	            a           “I believe that the proponents of gambling
ing of Jesus regarding “do unto others        South Dakota            a	      a	        a	            a	                 a	                 	            a        were approaching the municipalities knowing
as you would have them do unto you,”          Tennessee                                 a                                                                         that they were in need of revenue streams due
it is difficult to imagine that we would      Texas                   a	      a	        a	              	                a	                 	            a        to the downturn in the economy,” he said.
endorse legalized gambling. Legalized         Vermont                                   a	              	                 	                 	            a           “They pitched the idea of opening bingo
gambling is legalized losing.                 Virginia                        a	        a	              	                 	                 	            a        parlors saying it was legal for them to do so,
   While it is accurate to say you can-       Washington              a	      a	        a	              	                a	                 	            a        many times quoting a letter written by Attor-
not legislate morality, you can legislate     West Virginia           a	      a	        a	              	                 	                a	            a        ney General Troy King which purported to al-
behavior which is the very purpose of         Wisconsin               a	      a	        a	              	                a	                 	            a        low locations to hire employees and pay them
law. Keeping gambling illegal in our          Wyoming                 a	      a	         	              	                a	                 	            a	       a salary,” Falls said. “(They said) if you’ll pass
state does not force people to accept our                                                                                                                         an ordinance allowing us to do this, your city
moral values; it does limit the potential     Hawaii and Utah are the only states without any form of legalized gambling.                                         will benefit from having to pay the license fees
damage they can do to themselves, to                                                                                                                              and the public will benefit from having jobs
                                                                                                             Source: American Gaming Association, May 2009
others and to society in general.                                                      www.americangaming.org/Industry/factsheets/general_info_detail.cfv?id=15   all the time ignoring that the law did not allow
                                                                                                                                                                  them to operate as a for-profit business.”

								
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