By Alan Collins
JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - The day after state agents shut down five electronic bingo halls in the Birmingham division of Jefferson County, there is a move to close all facilities in the Bessemer Cutoff.
John Tyson, the commander of the Governor's Illegal Gambling Task Force, says the clock is ticking for operations to close by six o'clock Friday. "We have communicated to the operator they are to shut down by 6:00 p.m. on Friday. We will be watching and learning to see if they are going to comply with this request," Tyson said.
The deadline is not welcomed by Matt Tortorici, the head of the Bessemer Cutoff Bingo Alliance. "Threats from John Tyson is not a new in the bingo game. We are exploring our legal options. We are going to do what we need to do to continue to operate," Tortorici said.
The city of Fairfield has permitted six electronic bingo sites. The move to close them shocks city attorney Michael Trucks. "I've told them they could anticipate being raided. If they continue to remain open past six, they are going to do so at their own peril," Trucks said.
At World of Bingo, news spread quickly. "Oh no. Don't shut down. This is a good place for everyone to play. People bring it on," Diane King said.
"We can have better schools, hospitals and roads, and everything," Marvin Whately said.
Tyson spoke with Bessemer Division District Attorney Arthur Green about the deadline. Green agrees the machines are illegal but unlike Birmingham Division District Attorney Brandon Falls, Green is not ready to move against them. "I just want to hear from the Supreme Court. Whose to say I'm right or wrong over the legality of it, "Green said.
Tyson says he will not abide by a call from Attorney General Troy King to step down from the task force. "The word should go out they governor's illegal gambling task force is active. The governor has ordered us to ignore the orders of the attorney general," Tyson said.
Governor Bob Riley supports Tyson's move. "I think they are illegal. As long as they are illegal they should be shutdown," Riley said.
Wednesday law enforcement agencies shut down five bingo halls at the request of Falls. Today, the Mayor of Tarrant lashed out at Falls and closure of a bingo hall in her city. "They marched off with a stream of revenue for essential services and left nothing in its place," Loxcil Tuck, Tarrant Mayor said.
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