Bessemer cutoff bingo halls facing task force raids

FAIRFIELD, AL (WBRC) - Electronic bingo halls are put on notice. Jefferson County District Attorney Arthur Green of the Bessemer Cutoff says raids could happen at any time.  

Bingo halls are still open for business in Fairfield. Customers hope it stays that way."I think they should have brought it to a vote and let the people vote on it," one customer said.

Attorney General Troy King released this statement Monday in reaction to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling naming Governor Bob Riley as the chief authority for controlling the Governor's Illegal Gambling Task Force. King says "The Constitution requires that I abide the Court's decision and I will. Accordingly, the Office of the Attorney General will immediately turn over to the Governor all bingo matters."
Green has refused to act against bingo halls until the state high court ruled. "This is the ultimate decision I was waiting on," Green said.
Green says the bingo operations should shut their doors. "In my opinion they should close as soon as they can. Where I don't want their machines, John is going to get them," Green said.
Fairfield City Attorney Michael Trucks spoke with John Tyson Monday. Trucks hoped to work out a timetable for shutting down bingo halls, but the Task Force Commander refused to say if he will hold off two weeks until the Supreme Court ruling is finalized. "He considers the machines as slot machines. Illegal under Alabama law and the prosecution of any operator is something he will consider," Trucks said.
The city attorney says Tyson may consider prosecuting bingo operators even their doors are closed or not for having "Illegal machines."
 Did the decision give too much authority to the governor over the attorney general? Troy King released this statement: "I am obviously disappointed decision. The court reversed its own past decisions and even the decisions of those who wrote the constitution., The implication of the Court's decision reach far beyond the issue of bingo."

Cumberland Law School Dean, John Carroll says the ruling changed previous decisions going back 20 years. "Before, the court said Attorney General controlled litigation. Now they say not the Attorney General, it's the governor," Carroll said.
Mark White, the attorney for Victoryland Owner Milton McGregor says there are serious questions."The Governor is like the king and the governor is the supreme power in the state." White says it's a threat to separation of powers in Montgomery.  'It's an incredibly activist position for the court to do. The law has been in place for decades," White said.
Meanwhile, customers fear they will be losing their favorite past time. "A lot of the elderly, they come. That's the only joy they get. Nobody cussing, fighting things like that," Inez Davis said.

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