The Alabama Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gov. Bob Riley in a case involving the use of “electronic bingo” in Alabama.
“It’s a sham, it’s a complete sham,” said Todd Stacy, press secretary for the governor, about electronic bingo. “Thankfully the state of Alabama has had a lot of success lately in shutting down these illegal casinos.”
The Alabama Supreme Court defined the game traditionally known as bingo as a card game involving five columns and rows with random designations drawn individually.
Players compete against others, listen, mark and properly identify their card to win.
“From the officer’s testimony, it seems the machines operate almost exactly like slot machines,” according to page 49 of the court ruling. “In fact, an entire ‘bingo game’ takes approximately six seconds, involves no numbered cards and requires no player interaction at all, other than the player initially inserting cash or a ‘player’s card’ with cash credits into the machine and then pressing a button or pulling a handle to find out the outcome.”
The court ruled the “electronic bingo” machines manufactured by slot machine producers do not constitute traditional bingo and is illegal.
On Nov. 13 Riley sent letters to the gambling commissions of Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada and New Jersey notifying them of the Supreme Court’s decision.
“The Supreme Court’s ruling is crystal clear,” Riley said in a press release. “All these so-called electronic bingo machines are illegal in Alabama and it’s time for them to go. We warned the gambling commissions and the slot machine manufacturers almost a year ago that these machines are illegal, so the Supreme Court’s ruling can’t be a surprise to them.”
Gambling commissions regulate state casinos and slot machine manufacturers.
They are also held responsible for shipping unapproved gambling devices into Alabama, Stacy said.
“We like to set the record straight with gaming commissions to make sure they can enforce what regulations they need to,” Stacy said in response to the letter.
The Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling now has a clear ruling on what is legal bingo.
The task force has closed 70 casinos involved in illegal gambling practices since its establishment in December of last year, Stacy said.
Alabama Baptist Convention commended Riley’s efforts to end illegal gambling.
“We oppose casino gambling, including electronic slot machines, because it is predatory in nature, playing on the weaknesses of the state’s citizens,” said former Alabama Baptist Convention Director Joe Godfrey in a press release. “Legalized gambling causes social and economic damage to communities and families and should not be allowed into Alabama.”
A resolution opposing “electronic bingo” was approved at this year’s Alabama Baptist State Convention in Huntsville.
“Our Supreme Court has issued an opinion setting forth in great detail what constitutes a legal game of ‘bingo’, and not one of the so-called electronic bingo machines currently being operated in this state can qualify under the court’s definition,” Godfrey said in a press release.