Cooper Shattuck, who is Gov. Bentley’s legal advisor, was absolutely correct when he told the Birmingham News recently that state raids in Alabama are not “the preferred solution” when dealing with the electronic bingo issue. Cooper correctly pointed out that there are numerous legal options the state can pursue. His view is that Prohibition-style raids, which are short-term fixes, aren’t the ultimate solution to the lingering gambling problem in our state. I totally agree with Cooper that the courts must decide whether electronic bingo machines being used in the state meet requirements of state law. In that regard, Cooper told Kim Chandler, the reporter with the News who interviewed him:
That’s who will ultimately decide whether certain machines in certain locations are legal or illegal. It’s not for the Governor to decide. It’s not for the Attorney General to decide. It’s for the courts to decide.
As all Alabamians know, in the last year of his tenure, former-Gov. Bob Riley used State Troopers and raids to shut down the non-Indian bingo casinos in the state. All of those casinos sat dormant until Greenetrack reopened in March, apparently using new electronic bingo machines. Soon after his inauguration, Gov. Bentley turned over enforcement of the bingo controversy to Attorney General Luther Strange, which was the proper thing to do.
On a personal note, I have never believed that the gambling casinos were good in any respect for Alabama. Gambling in any form on a large scale is nothing more than a tax on low income citizens. It drains money from folks generally who can’t afford to lose a paycheck. Never should gambling be depended on as a base on which to finance government or education. The problems the casinos bring with them greatly outweigh any financial benefit to the state and its citizens. But, I also believe just as strongly that the raids last year were a big mistake. The courts are where these battles should and must be fought.
Both Gov. Bentley and Attorney General Strange have a duty to see that the laws of this state are enforced. Fortunately, the Governor and Attorney General are working together on the gambling issue and that’s good news for all Alabama citizens. It’s time for this chapter in Alabama history to be over. If electronic machines used to “play bingo” are illegal under Alabama law, the courts should shut down the operators. On the other hand, if the machines are legal, the operators should be allowed to stay open and be heavily taxed. But in any event, the issue of legality should be resolved in the courts. I believe most Alabamians are ready for this chapter in our state’s history to end one way or the other.
Source: Birmingham News
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