I may be the only person in Alabama who feels this way, but I am sick and tired of seeing the commercials on television both promoting and attacking electronic bingo. Actually, some of them are pretty nasty. While I don’t watch much television except for the news and sports programs, I still see enough of these ads to make me realize each side is spending some big bucks in this battle. It might be interesting to know the funding sources of these media buys and related activities. With all of the problems facing our state, and most of them dealing with economic issues, I have a real difficult time understanding some of the things that have been going on in this on-going battle, and especially with the Tyson Task Force. I predict, before all of this plays out, that Governor Riley may regret his appointment of Tyson. It seems the Task Force Commander may enjoy his “day in the sun” a little too much and that may become a problem before it’s over.
Without any doubt, the failed raids on Victoryland and County Crossing were public relations disasters. Lots of folks are asking why Tyson attempted the night raids on two existing businesses without having either a search warrant or a valid court order in hand. It would seem that Mr. Tyson and one state trooper, or maybe even Tyson and a single deputy sheriff, could have gone to the two locations during day light hours, and with a search warrant or court order, accomplish what Tyson failed to do with hundreds of troopers. It appears that about $130,000 of state funds were wasted in one day which is most difficult to understand and really can’t be justified.
For the record, while I am totally against gambling in any shape, form or fashion, I recognize that we already have lots of it in Alabama. If you doubt that take a ride down I-65 around Atmore and see what an Indian tribe has built there, or you can check out the two gambling locations in Montgomery and Elmore counties currently being run by the tribe. Also, gambling on sports I am told, is a very big enterprise in Alabama. In addition to worrying about gambling in our state, I would like to see the same aggressive efforts that we have seen from the Tyson task force utilized in the wars against illegal drugs, pornography, alcohol abuse, corporate fraud and the list goes on. I have to wonder why electronic bingo – all of a sudden – has been singled out and why none of the others have been targeted by the state in a similar manner.
Personally, I would like to see a reasonable approach taken to resolving the bingo issue in Alabama once and for all. Obviously, the first place where it should take place and be settled is in the court system. The next place is clearly in the Alabama Legislature. I have no problem at all with the people of Alabama deciding this issue. A simple question could be put to the voters in November and that question would be something like: “Do you want electronic bingo in Alabama?” The people would vote either “yes” or “no.” Hopefully, the Governor and the legislators can agree on the proper legal language in a constitutional amendment that will put the bingo issue up for a statewide vote in November. If the vote is “no,” that ends this matter. But if the people vote “yes,” then the state must set up the strongest gaming commission possible – independent of politics – and then tax the bingo facilities at the highest rate currently being levied in the country.
In any event, it’s time to put this issue behind us once and for all and get on with working to solve the many economic problems facing our state. That’s the logical and sensible thing to do and I believe most all Alabamians feel that way!
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