The question at the center of it all: do these electronic bingo machines meet Alabama state law.On one side, the man who's invested millions and those who could benefit from the games. On the other side, Alabama governor bob Riley and his anti-gambling task force. Riley's Gambling Task Force was set to seize about 1,700 electronic bingo machines from Country Crossing early Wednesday morning. A last second restrain order stopped it dead in its tracks. "We are operating within the parameters of what our constitutional amendment and enabling legislation allows us to do," Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley said.
Gilley is referring to a 1994 amendment that allows bingo in Houston County. But what is that amendment and what does it say about *electronic* bingo? We looked and the word *electronic* is not mentioned anywhere in amendment 569. What it does say is "The operation of bingo games for prizes or money by certain nonprofit organizations and certain private clubs for charitable, educational or other lawful purposes shall be legal in Houston county..."
The question is do the electronic machines at County Crossing meet those specifications? The governor says no. "We're going to enforce the law and we're going to do it all across the state of Alabama," the governor told WDHN in Pasadena, CA.
Similar operations, that Riley calls casinos, have been shut down in Jefferson, Walker and Mobile counties. "Let's quit picking on the private citizens of this state that are creating a greater good for their community," Gilley said.
"Someone said in a newscast today that we were picking on Country Crossing or Houston County. If you look at what's happened, all these casinos have been shut down. As long as they are illegal we are going to continue to shut them down," Riley continued.
With hundreds employed by an establishment that could be ruled illegal, many wonder if country crossing could survive without those bingo machines. "We're not about bingo. You have not seen any advertisement from us that has been bingo oriented. It's all been entertainment oriented," Gilley continued.
Meanwhile, the search warrant targeting Country Crossing expires Sunday. Without legal action between now and then... agents will spend a cold weekend at home and people wanting to play the machines at Country Crossing will stay warm... but for how long?
Many, including Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley are calling for a vote. The legislature goes back to session Tuesday, that's where talk of a vote would have to begin. Country Crossing cites a 1994 constitutional amendment as paving the way for legal electronic bingo in Houston County. But, what exactly does Amendment 569 say?
To read Amendment 569: http://law.justia.com/alabama/constitution/CA-246412.html