Electronic bingo fight hits the AL Supreme Court

By Alan Collins

MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - The showdown over electronic bingo in Alabama heads to the State Supreme Court. Legal briefs are due over who should control the Governor's Illegal Gambling Task Force.

Earlier, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance ruled Attorney General Troy King should lead.  In Tuscaloosa Thursday, speaking to University of Alabama Law students, John Tyson the commander of the task force said he has the clear authority to shut down the bingo facilities. Tyson also warned King about trying to stop him. "Mr. King is deliberately using his office to interfere with our investigation and that is very, very serious steps for him," Tyson said.

The Supreme Court has asked Tyson and attorneys for White Hall gaming facility in Lowndes County to file briefs over the legal authority of the task force.

Montgomery Attorney Joe Espy agrees with Judge Vance's ruling."We believe very strongly he is right on point. His opinion was correct. It has been the law for years and years in this state," Espy said.
This week, King asked Tyson to step down and he refused. The commander says court battles are nothing more than a delaying tactic. "Millions of dollars are being spent on battling the task force. We are in play in many parts of the state at the same time," Tyson said.
Meanwhile in Montgomery, Russellville Senator Roger Bedford is working on building votes for a new bill which will allow for electronic bingo halls in Alabama. "We are close, but the governor and the Republicans are working with the Mississippi casinos preventing the people of Alabama voting on the this issue," Bedford said.
Senate Republicans say the Bedford bill is a blank check for gambling interest with no cap on the number of operations. Tyson says the state high court could rule as soon as next week on who controls the task force.