Gov-Elect: AG to do Alabama’s Anti-Gambling Work

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Gov.-elect Robert Bentley said Wednesday he will turn over the work of the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling to the Alabama attorney general when he takes office on Jan. 17.

Bentley and incoming Attorney General Luther Strange said in a joint release they would work to enforce Alabama's laws against illegal gambling.

Strange's office will take over the work of the task force first established by Gov. Bob Riley. Strange said he will enforce recent Supreme Court rulings that led to the closing of electronic bingo casinos in Macon, Houston, Lowndes and Greene counties, as well as smaller facilities across the state.

Owners of closed casinos shouldn't interpret the dismantling of the governor's task force to mean they can reopen, Strange said.

"I intend to enforce the rule of law as it is written and in strict accordance with the decisions of the Alabama Supreme Court," Strange said in the statement.

Riley established the task force after disagreeing with Attorney General Troy King over the legality of the illegal bingo games being played at some casinos. Strange defeated King in the Republican Primary in June and said he believes the attorney general should be responsible for enforcing laws concerning gambling.

Bentley said he plans to transfer all authority for enforcing those laws to Strange.

Casinos in several Alabama counties have opened based on constitutional amendments approved by voters that allowed bingo games for charity. Strange said he doesn't believe that electronic bingo games are legal under those amendments.

"Absolutely no constitutional amendment in the state of Alabama authorizes the use of machines that accept cash or credit and then dispense cash value prizes based upon chance. Machines with those features are slot machines," Strange said.

Riley commended Bentley for turning over the work of the task force to Strange.

"The gambling bosses who had hoped that Alabama's new elected officials would allow them to break the law must be sorely disappointed today," Riley said in a statement.

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