Bessemer Mayor promises to shut down any new electronic bingo hall

BESSEMER, AL (WBRC) - Words of warning from Bessemer Mayor Ed Mayor: don't bring new electronic bingo halls to his town.

"I don't recall such a divisive issue," May said.

Thursday, Mayor May, who is strongly opposed to electronic bingo, said any bingo hall which opened after November 5th will be shut down.  Mayor May said he would do this even if electronic bingo gaming is still legal in the Bessemer cutoff.

"We are going to enforce the law in Bessemer, Alabama," May said. "Unless the Supreme Court or some other court  decides otherwise there will be no proliferation of gambling in Bessemer, Alabama."

On Nov. 3rd, at a court hearing before Jefferson County Circuit Judge Eugene Verin, District Attorney Arthur Green agreed not to close electronic bingo operations until a court hearing in January.  Mayor May said Thursday this decision does not cover new bingo gaming after Nov. 5th.

Mayor May also said he considers all electronic bingo halls illegal in Bessemer because none have a proper permit. May vetoed previous bingo ordinances.

Bessemer Police Chief Nathaniel Rutledge said his office is investigating gaming operations which may have opened after the deadline date.

"As far as the operations, it's our interpretation and our understanding what is going is illegal," Rutledge said. "What's attempted to go is illegal."

The Anchor Club in downtown Bessemer has been operating before the deadline and there is a court order to keep it open for the time being. The club's general manager fears May's opposition may ultimately cost jobs.

"We do create jobs," Robert White said. "I had 140 people working for me. The spin offs, you are talking suppliers and venders."

White contends the recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling which narrowly defined legal bingo will not shut the door on electronic bingo gaming. Both White and May say they believe the issue should be decided by the voters.