Alabama Bingo Politics

Typically I have been writing solely about the online gambling industry but what has been going on in Alabama is disgusting to me.  Dog tracks have been allowed to have video bingo for nearly two decades.  A video bingo machine is essentially a one pull bingo game.  The machine displays your win in the form of a slot machine layout.  For example if you made your bingo on the first 4 numbers drawn the slot machine would show you the jackpot combination on the slot machine.

Alabama Governor Bob Riley created the Task Force on Illegal Gaming.  This task force set out to close down an industry that has flourished since the 90’s in Alabama.  Dog tracks were allowed to build racinos when video bingo games started to invade store fronts in Alabama.  Under Alabama state law charitable video bingo is allowed.  The difference is that the current governor now claims these machines are “Las Vegas style slot machines” and not video bingo machines like they have been accepted to be in the past.

Since this task force has been raiding racinos the owners of these businesses were forced to go to court and defend their businesses.  The Alabama Supreme Court agreed with the governor that these machines were slot machines and not video bingo machines, effectively making the established racinos illegal.  Even though the state attorney general has long held these machines were legal and other government officials agreed the governor went on a witch hunt to destroy an existing, seemingly legal industry.

It is one thing to not allow gambling in your state.  It is another to decide that an existing, established industry is suddenly illegal.  This industry created thousands of jobs in Alabama, invested tens of millions of dollars building hotels, expanding casinos, buying gambling devices, providing local food service and drink vendors with business and supported entire communities.  Now these businesses just sit empty with as many as 2000 unemployed because of this vendetta.  All the while the Poarch Creek Indian video bingo business thrives since they are not subject to the shutdown.

I grew up in Atlanta and after seeing the demise of existing video gambling industries in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina I know how things are in the South.  If some fundamentalist decides you shouldn’t do something then they make sure to find a way to keep you from enjoying it.  You still can’t even buy a 6 pack of beer on a Sunday anywhere in Georgia.  Why should you be able to spend your taxed, earned money on whatever you want?

Of course convenience gambling isn’t really the answer either.  I live in South Dakota now where there is a video poker machine anywhere that you can imagine.  In fact South Dakota is 2nd only to Nevada in gambling devices per capita in the U.S.  This also comes with a 2nd place in Gamblers Anonymous members behind Montana.  There is a compromise though.

Having limited gambling, regulating it and taxing it seems to be the answer.  That is how things were in Alabama.  In fact charities were banking off of the gambling as well as the government.  Of course there is no better time to destroy people’s livelihoods than during a devastating recession either.  I guess some people don’t care about people’s leisure time enjoyment, jobs or the amount of money that was invested in seemingly legal businesses when they have their own agenda to shove down people’s throats.

EDIT: I have been bombarded with anti gambling and fanatical comments by an outside site that linked to this post.  It’s pretty simple, if you don’t like gambling don’t gamble.  Why is that so hard to understand?  Trying to push your ideas onto others is what is wrong with this country.  Don’t post your fundamentalist garbage, I will not approve it.

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