Bingo Gets Political in Alabama

According to several bingo news sources, the game of bingo has gotten political in Alabama. A few days ago a Birmingham resident and mayoral candidate, Kamau Afrika, has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Attorney General Luther Strange, the state’s public safety director and law enforcement officials in Jefferson and Houston counties. The suit alleges that these officials are denying Afrika’s constitutional right to operate a bingo hall in the state.

14th Amendment Issue

Afrika filed the suit last week without a lawyer. Afrika alleges that the state of Alabama is selectively enforcing anti-gambling laws and that enforcement has been racist and economically oppressive. Afrika contends that the state’s blocking his attempts to open a bingo hall in Birmingham is a violation of his 14th amendment rights. The 14th amendment guarantees all citizens equal protection under the law. Bingo has been a hot topic in Alabama for the past two years. The previous governor, Riley, had waged a major war against bingo in the state resulting in the closure of several bingo halls and putting thousands out of work. Online bingo has yet to be affected.

Kamau Afrika’s Background

Afrika, a real estate investor and activist, said that the economy forced him to choose bingo as an economic alternative after the housing market collapsed. Afrika says that option has been unfairly denied. In a statement Afrika said “Poverty is the worst form of violence that can be imposed upon humanity. It is insane and evil to talk about morality, pass laws that put people out of work, force them into welfare and deny the free enterprise of business development and expansion, especially in a state of an economic death spiral when one weighs the negatives versus the positives of revenue for charities, schools, infrastructure and sustainable wages versus minimal wages.”

Anti-Gambling Crackdown Turns Hostile

In his federal lawsuit Afrika says that he tried to rent a building next to an established bingo hall but was denied by the agent for the property. The agent had a non-compete agreement with the bingo hall. The agent has not been named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Afrika contends that he is a victim of a climate of hostility created by the anti gambling crackdown in the state. Afrika is accusing officials of selective enforcement citing raids in Greene County which is predominantly black while bingo games in white areas were allowed to continue.

Class Divide Widens

Afrika says that a disparity in enforcement exists and that state legislators are strangling Alabama residents economically. In a very strongly worded statement Afrika said “Evil, theocratic Alabama lawmakers and their historically sociopathic, psychopathic, racist and class based constitution have socially engineered too many of its youth, working class, struggling middle class, elderly and the poor into a life of crime, poverty and hopelessness.” Bingo news sources will be following the progress of Afrika’s lawsuit closely. The result could have a profound effect on Alabama’s bingo industry.