Alabama state governor Bob Riley has become famous for his Task Force on Illegal Gambling, which he sends around to raid what he calls “illegal” electronic bingo halls. In a surprising move, Attorney General Troy King has just taken control of the task force, insisting that the raids stop until the legal status of the bingo machines is determined by the courts. The state of Alabama has already paid half a million dollars in legal fees supporting the Task Force in the 18 lawsuits that have been filed against it. Task Force Commander John Tyson, says King does not have the authority to take over or stop raids.
Bloomberg Business Week: Alabama AG to take over antigambling task force
Two casinos in the US state of Alabama intend to reopen next week after Attorney General Troy King announced that he is taking over the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling, King intends to put an end to the ongoing raids of electronic bingo casinos until a final court ruling regarding the legality of machines.
The two casinos, Country Crossing at Dothan and White Hall Entertainment Center in Lowndes County, both closed down a month ago to avoid being raided by the governor’s task force.
The legal battle over electronic bingo in Alabama’s boils down to a simple disagreement. Alabama Governor Bob Riley and Task Force Commander Tyson argue that electronic bingo machines are illegal slot machines, while King insists that the final determination must be made by the court.
King intends to use his authority as Alabama’s top law officer to take control, remove Tyson from power, and secure all evidence collected by the Task Force. King will also put an end to the pre-dawn raids of casinos that the Task Force has been conducting – without search warrants.
Task Force Commander Tyson, who is also a district attorney in Mobile, says King does not have the authority to take over or stop raids.
“If the attorney general gets his way, then the only thing that will be assured is that the illegal slot machines casinos will get to stay open for months and months as the gambling bosses drag out the litigation that the attorney general says he is going to bring,” Tyson said.
Fox News Alabama: Tyson Fires Back at Troy King over Gambling
John Tyson said yesterday that he has no intentions of stepping down from his position as the Commander of Alabama Governor Riley’s anti-gambling task force.
Tyson he argues that the issue is greater than just a battle against illegal gambling, noting that casinos have a tendency to breed corruption.
“I fought corruption because it’s the right thing to do and yeah, I’ve taken some heat for it,” Tyson said. “Governor Riley and I talked about the price of fighting corruption. We both agree, it’s worth the heat.”
Tyson also said he would comply with King’s demands turn over the evidence the Task Force has collected.
When asked if he intends to execute raids on any casinos that dare to re-open in light of King’s announcement, Tyson replied: “The Governor of the state of Alabama as recently as this morning again says ‘John, you’re the commander of the task force on illegal gambling, go get ‘em, ‘. I will see to it to see that the laws of the state are enforced. I will not disclose how we might choose to do that.”
Mongomery Advisor: Several lawsuits have been filed against the task force
The state of Alabama has paid $536,115 in legal expenses since December 2008 to support Governor Bob Riley’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling.
The state has also has seized about $1.3 million during raids on electronic bingo parlors. After each of the raids or in to stop anticipated raids, organizations have filed lawsuits against the Task Force, its Commander John Tyson., Governor Riley, and other officials.
According to the Governor’s office, the Task Force is currently involved in 18 lawsuits related to gambling. The court battles involve operators trying to get back gambling machines and monies seized during the raids. Some lawsuits even involve attempts by bingo establishments to file restraining orders against the Task Force to prevent future raids.