More Alabama Bingo Follies

Bingo is back in the news in Alabama. For years puritanical state officials have waged war against bingo games in the state. The conflict is over electronic bingo games. The state contends that the bingo machines are illegal slot machines and casino operators say the machines were designed to conform to Alabama’s definition of bingo. The latest skirmish took place in Etowah County. Back in 2009 CBS Supply signed an agreement with the county’s commission for a $200 million bingo development. The company said the development would attract 3.3 million people annually and would create 1,200 jobs in an area with high unemployment.

Then former Governor Riley got a bee in his bonnet over electronic bingo and sent in his storm troopers to confiscate bingo machines throughout the state. A federal corruption prosecution related to bingo failed twice and an Alabama court set six criteria for bingo games in the state. In the meantime publicity mad attorney general Luther Strange has continued the harassment of bingo operators putting hundreds out of work without remorse. Etowah County has acted conservatively when it comes to bingo. In March the county commission voted to stop all actions on electronic bingo until a court says it is legal.

Last week CBS Supply submitted a report done by Gaming Laboratories International. The company was hired by Etowah County to inspect the bingo machines and said they met the county’s standard for electronic bingo. CBS Supply asked county sheriff Todd Entrekin for an electronic bingo permit which he denied. Entrekin offered a lame excuse and said the machines are not legal because they pay off on interim patterns instead of a final pattern.

Two days later two bingo machines were seized and a woman was arrested at Center Stage casino in Rainbow City. The woman’s attorney stated ‚ÄúThese machines were the machines that were tested by the folks in New Jersey (GLI is in Lakewood Township) and were certified.” He said he plans to use this case to prove the legality of the machines. Since the legislature has been indifferent to the issue of electronic bingo most likely the decisions will be made by the courts. Hopefully the harassment of casinos and bingo parlors will cease in Alabama and the attorney general and sheriff can concentrate on more important matters.