Bingo Follies Continue in Alabama

The battle over bingo is heating up after Alabama attorney general Luther Strange expanded his complaint against former allies the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. In addition to shutting down non-tribal casinos Strange has filed a complaint saying the tribe’s casinos are “public Nuisances.” Fortunately the tribe was able to have the case moved to federal court where tribal rights are respected. Over the years Strange has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and resources pursuing his vendetta against gambling operators in Alabama. Strange is a social conservative and has the support of many far right religious groups. Now strange has launched a multi-pronged attack against tribal gaming in Alabama.

Strange’s newest tactic was revealed in his amended complaint against the Poarch Creeks in U.S. District Court in Montgomery. At first Strange asked an Elmore County Circuit Court judge to shut down the tribe’s casinos on the grounds that they are a ‘public nuisance. ‘The latest complaint was filed after the tribe had the case moved to federal court and asked a judge to dismiss Strange’s lawsuit. The tribe contends that Alabama has no legal right to sue the Poarch Band, which is a sovereign nation under federal laws.

Andrew Brasher, Strange’s deputy solicitor general, said in an email “We have amended the complaint to clarify the federal aspects of the State’s claim and to let the court know more about how the Tribe’s slot machines operate. Amending a complaint is something that happens all the time in the early stages of a lawsuit.” Brasher’s statement admitted that filing the suit in state court was a ruse designed to unfairly limit the tribe’s legal options. Brasher wrote “We were not surprised that the tribal defendants moved the lawsuit from state court to federal court. This procedural move required the tribal defendants to acknowledge that federal law gives the State a claim against them and to waive several defenses that they could have raised. So, we are not asking the federal court to send the case back to state court; we are asking the federal court to go ahead and consider our claim now.”

So exactly what put a bee in Strange’s bonnet? The answer is simple; electronic bingo. Strange says that in reality the electronic bingo machines are illegal slot machines. The tribes and casino owners say otherwise. In February Strange conducted a highly publicized raid at VictoryLand casino and seized over 1,000 bingo machines along with a large sum of cash. In Alabama playing internet bingo is probably the safest way to enjoy the game.