Alabama Supreme Court rules against electronic bingo in Greene County

On Friday, December 23, 2016, the Alabama Supreme Court issued two rulings, which Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange states, “These rulings show that electronic bingo is illegal in the state of Alabama.”
In the case State of Alabama v. 825 Electronic Gambling Devices et al (Greenetrack), the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in favor of the State, reversing a lower court judgment siding with the casino. As a result, the State of Alabama is allowed to destroy the electronic bingo machines it seized from Greenetrack in 2010.
In its 29-page ruling released Friday, the Supreme Court reaffirmed its March 31, 2016 ruling in a similar case involving the legality of electronic bingo machines.
“There is no longer any room for uncertainty, nor justification for continuing dispute, as to the meaning of [the term ‘bingo’]. And certainly the need for any further expenditure of judicial resources, including the resources of this Court, to examine this issue is at an end.
All that is left is for the law of this State to be enforced,” the Supreme Court said.
In a separate case (Macon County Greyhound Park, Inc., d/b/a Victoryland v Marie Hoffman), the Supreme Court ruled that individuals have a right to sue illegal gambling institutions.
“Because the ‘contracts’ containing the arbitration provisions in these cases were based on gambling consideration, they were based solely on criminal conduct, and are therefore void. Consequently, the provisions of those ‘contracts,’ including arbitration provisions are void and unenforceable,” the Supreme Court ruled.
Attorney General Strange emphasized that these rulings, combined with the Supreme Court’s March 31, 2016 ruling against Victoryland, remove any doubt that electronic bingo in all its forms is illegal in Alabama and that local law enforcement should do their duty to enforce the law.
“Local sheriffs and police officers in most parts of the State are enforcing our gambling laws. The sheriffs in Greene and Macon counties must uphold their sworn duty to enforce the law as interpreted by the Supreme Court and not continue to sanction this illegal activity.
“My office stands ready to render any required assistance to enable them to carry out their duties,” said AG Strange.
The Alabama Supreme Court decision ignores the intent and support of the voters of Greene County to overwhelmingly approve Constitutional Amendment 743, which allows for electronic forms of bingo, say knowlegable observers in Greene County.
The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled in previous decisions that bingo is a game played on paper cards, with five numbers across and five down. The players must mark their cards and call out a bingo when they have it on their cards. The Alabama high court decision overlooks the changing digitalizing and electronic adaptions of all devices in our society.
“ I am sure that every member of the Alabama Supreme Court has a cellular phone in their pocket and they would not rule that the cellular phone is not a telephone, but they have ruled that electronic bingo machines are not bingo,” said a member of the Greene County school board, which is a major recipient of bingo funds.
“This is a voting rights issue for us now in Greene County. The Alabama Supreme Court should not be allowed to overrule the voters of Greene County who approved electronic bingo. This high court should not be able to strip Greene County of revenues and jobs from electronic bingo,” said Lester Brown, Greene County Commissioner District 1.
A countywide meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 at 6:00 PM at the National Guard Armory for citizens of Greene County to discuss the impact of this decision and plans for going forward to defend Constitutional Amendment 743.

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