Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama has decided to sign an executive order to review gambling in the state.
Gambling is hard to come by in the state of Alabama. For decades, the conservative state has offered casino gaming via Indian casinos, bingo halls here and there, but not much else. The state does not offer lottery gaming and residents simply visit nearby states to purchase tickets or to enjoy casino gaming. This year, gambling has been debated in the state with Governor Robert Bentley even considering creating legislation for lottery gaming. Now, the Governor has signed an executive order that will create an advisory council whose job it will be to review gambling within the states borders.
Executive Order for Alabama Advisory Council on Gaming
The Executive Order 24 was signed this past Monday to see the creation of the Alabama Advisory Council on Gaming. This council will have the job of examining state and local laws that involve gambling as well as taxes generated from such gaming. Other states that offer gambling will also be reviewed to help find the best practices in place for gambling.
The new council will have until the end of January 2017 to report findings and make recommendations to the governor as well as Senate President Pro Tem and the House Speaker. The board will consist of seven appointments made by the governor, two Alabama House of Representative members, two Alabama Senate members, an individual from the Alabama Sheriffs Association and an individual from the Alabama District Attorneys Association. The governor will also have the option to add more to the council as he sees fit.
The House Speaker will name the member from the House of Representatives while the Senate President will name the Senate member. Currently, there are several gambling related bills being considered in legislature that have been gaining ground over the past few months. According to Bentley, the subject of gaming in Alabama has been one that long-term and filled with dispute and controversy. The council will be working to provide a new perspective on the past efforts of the state and work to clear a path forward in regards to gaming in the state of Alabama.
Will Bingo Wars Come to An End?
For the past few years, the state has been at war over electronic bingo machines which are options used for gambling in the state that are similar to slot machines. Those who operate such games like Victoryland argue that the games are allowed due to state laws. However, legislators have a different idea. One would imagine that bingo will be a topic of gambling that the new council covers.
The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that the state bingo laws that allow card and paper bingo games for charity fundraisers are not meant to include the slot style gaming devices. The governor has stated that they need to look at this with reasonable people who can help decide what needs to be done and then present their findings to the legislature.
On the 20th of September, Governor Bentley and Attorney General Luther Strange sent out letters to the sheriff and district attorney of Macon and Lowndes, both counties in the state, to have them stop the operation of such illegal bingo machines like the ones at VictoryLand and Southern Star Casinos. Bentley reportedly has no plans to raid the casinos and local law enforcement needs to be the ones taking on the task.
Strange stated that there is nothing to investigate as the courts have decided that the machines are considered illegal. In a statement on Monday when the new council plans were revealed, Strange stated that residents of Alabama that are dissatisfied with state laws against gambling have the right to advocate for new laws. But until the laws are changed, local law enforcement have to enforce the current law.