Clarity needed for bingo law

Published 9:50 pm Monday, April 6, 2009

The video bingo issue in the State of Alabama has become less clear in recent years as facilities, such as the White Hall gaming center, have been allowed to open and operate.

And the recent raid on the center, removing machines only to have them placed back by a court ruling, has made the issue more confusing.

Years ago, then Chilton County Sheriff Billy Wayne Fulmer and District Attorney Randall Houston were among the leaders in the state in removing these machines from “arcades” in and around the county.

Arrests were made, machines were seized and cases were built against those who operated what were ruled illegal machines.

Political groups, such as the “Sweet Home Alabama Coalition” have jumped into the fray, calling for legislation to not only regulate bingo machines but tax them, bringing in revenue for the state.

The advertising by the group, which has been vague in their leadership and makeup other than the celebrities in their commercials, turned nasty this week when it attacked Gov. Riley and his stance on gambling.

Alabama Attorney General Troy King has been quiet on this issue when he should be leading the charge.

This issue needs clear leadership on either side to offer quality debate over what is legal and not legal. The Alabama Legislature should either change or clarify gaming laws.

The existence of facilities, such as the one in White Hall, only add more confusion to a debate that is already too murky.

Alabama has serious problems, and the issue of gambling has far too often raised its head not to be addressed and addressed seriously.

Years ago, Chilton County showed the state what it meant to follow the law, what it meant to enforce the law.

If these machines are illegal, then remove them. If these machines are legal, then they need to be regulated and taxed—and taxed heavily.