By Bob Howell – WSFA 12 News Anchor, Montgomery, AL -
in an opinion released today, the Alabama Supreme Court says electronic bingo is illegal in St. Clair County. The governor’s Illegal Gambling Task Force had assisted St. Clair County’s sheriff who had resisted attempts to open a bingo operation. Here is the governor’s reaction to the latest Alabama Supreme Court ruling:
From Governor Bob Riley’s Press Office:
The Alabama Supreme Court today issued an opinion that again makes clear that the so-called “electronic bingo” machines being used by casino bosses across the State are illegal.
In a follow-up to its November opinion that identified six elements that are required for legal bingo, the Court today made clear that “human interaction in playing the game” must be present for a game to qualify as bingo. In other words, a machine cannot play the game of bingo for a person. Specifically, the Court held that bingo requires a player “(1) to pay attention to the numbers or designations announced, (2) to physically act to determine and then to mark whether they have a matching number or symbol, [and] (3) to recognize that they have a winning card and be the first to announce this fact.” If the game is not one where the player could lose by making mistakes in marking his card, then it is not bingo according to the Court.
Although the case arose out of St. Clair County, the decision on the meaning of “bingo” applies statewide. Even though there are different constitutional amendments pertaining to bingo for various counties, the Supreme Court has already ruled that “bingo” means the same thing in all the amendments.
“None of the slot machines being used at casinos in Alabama comes anywhere close to meeting this definition of bingo,” said Governor Bob Riley. “A person could play these machines blind-folded and still win. Although the previous court decisions were crystal clear that the machines are illegal, this decision absolutely slams the door shut on any argument that these slot machines qualify as bingo.”
“The Court’s decision is hardly a surprise. Anyone with any common sense knows that these slot machines are not bingo. Law enforcement officials across the State cannot turn their heads any longer to the illegal activity that is occurring,” said Governor Riley. “The gambling bosses have run out of excuses, and these slot-machine casinos must be shut down.”
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