Alabama Bingo War Heats Up

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For most people bingo is considered a 'soft' form of gambling. In the UK and Europe bingo is perfectly socially acceptable but in some parts of the United States bingo is a crime! In the state of Alabama bingo has been controversial for years. Federal prosecutors even attempted to jail several bingo operators during two trials which resulted in acquittal for all of the defendants. Former Alabama governor Riley had staged a series of raids at bingo halls in the state. Many people hoped that a new administration would be more sympathetic to electronic bingo in the state. Unfortunately recent raids have shown that this is not the case.Alabama Bingo War Heats Up

Alabama attorney general Luther Strange seized more than $283,000 in cash during a raid at the Center Stage casino near Dothan Alabama. Now Strange is asking a judge to allow him to give the seized money to the state's treasury and destroy the bingo machines seized in the raid. Strange filed court documents asking Houston County Circuit Judge Larry Anderson to rule that the money and machines "constituted gambling devices and slot machines." There has been an ongoing dispute about the legality of electronic bingo machines in the state. The state contends that the machines are actually illegal slot machines while casino owners say they are perfectly legal under state law. It should be noted that tribal casinos in the state offer the very same games unmolested by law enforcement.

Strange said officers seized $283,657 in cash during the raid and confiscated 691 computer terminals, servers and other pieces of equipment. An attorney for the casino's operator, the Houston Economic Development Association, said that the court filing was the first time the casino owners knew how much money was seized. Larry Hornsby, who represents the casino's owners said that the money seized came not only from games but from the casino's restaurant, bar and paper bingo games. Hornsby stated "You have to keep a fair amount of cash on hand to pay your winnings." He also said that the casino believes the games are legal and is asking the court to direct the attorney general to show why the games are illegal. Hornsby said "They tell us it's contraband, but they don't tell us why."

An assistant attorney general said the state intends to prove the games are illegal. Assistant AG Sonny Reagan stated "At this point, the state will be required to prove that all items seized were illegal gambling machines or devices and that all money seized were proceeds from illegal gambling. Any party with an interest in the seized items may intervene in the case and argue their defense to the court." It is probably hard for most bingo players to understand why the state of Alabama is wasting millions of taxpayer dollars to prosecute bingo providers in the state. The casino has reopened since the raid and is currently offering paper bingo games.

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