Alabama’s Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) stated that state and federal law enforcement agencies raided 14 bingo halls in Jefferson County on Tuesday. They include Super Highway Bingo.
Some people claim that Marshall is determined to end illegal gambling in the state. He announced the raid at Tuesday’s press conference saying that 14 ventures offered illegal bingo games.
The Cotton State is among the country’s most restrictive states about gambling. It only allows pari-mutuel betting, specific types of charitable gaming, and tribal gaming. Still, it bans commercial casinos and Marshall is cracking down on bingo parlors.
Tuesday’s raid comprised Marshall’s office, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. They issued 14 Jefferson gambling facilities with temporary restraining orders for contravening state law.
Marshall claimed that they acted after receiving many complaints of illegal gaming’s adverse impact on local communities. He added that his office will not tolerate illegal gaming venues operating freely.
The Unprecedented Busts
Alabama has hesitated to join other states that allow Las Vegas-style tribal gaming and commercial casinos. Still, most of its counties have ordinances that allow bingo, requiring it to function in ordinary paper form instead of electronic bingo machines. Some counties permit electronic bingo only if local charities receive their revenue.
Sometimes, bingo shops market themselves as casinos in Alabama. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled in September that they violate state betting laws despite getting approval from local authorities. It made the ruling after Marshall appealed to a lower court’s ruling that termed charitable gaming in Lowndes and Macon counties as legal.
The Attorney General has accused White Hall, Southern Star, and Victoryland bingo parlors of offering illegal games. He stated that Jefferson County residents need to live in a peaceful casino-free area. Also, their leaders shouldn’t allow illegal casinos in their jurisdictions.
The 14 bingo parlors were ordered to stop operating immediately. No one should use them, access them or complete financial transactions before the Circuit Court of Jefferson County issues other orders.
Critics Haven’t Deterred Marshall
The state Attorney General is in charge of enforcing the criminal code’s violations and terms gambling as being illegal in Alabama. He stated that he knows the narrative some people give after his staff raids illegal gambling venues. They claim that he should focus on real problems since gambling doesn’t hurt anyone.
Yet, Marshall doesn’t create laws. He supported the recent raid saying that the unlawful gambling sites negatively affect local communities.
Bingo parlors promote violence, drugs, fraud, and increase crime, according to the Attorney General. He explained that those businesses earn tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars each month yet they are neglecting nearby communities thus making them illegal gambling’s forgotten victims. Moreover, they don’t improve the economies of their neighborhoods as some investors hire staff from other regions.
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