Ala. AG turning all bingo matters over to governor

By PHILLIP RAWLS, Bloomberg Businessweek

MONTGOMERY, ALA.

Alabama Attorney General Troy King said Monday he is pulling out of the legal dispute over electronic bingo and leaving it to Gov. Bob Riley, who won a state Supreme Court ruling saying King can’t take control of the governor’s gambling task force.

King was disappointed by Friday’s ruling, which he said was a blow to the authority of his office. But he said he would abide by it.

“Accordingly, the Office of Attorney General will immediately turn over to the governor all bingo matters,” King said in a statement.

King’s statement came with one week left to go in his heated Republican primary race with Birmingham attorney Luther Strange, who has criticized King for his feuding with the governor over the gambling issue.

The Supreme Court ruled in a dispute involving the closed White Hall Entertainment Center, an electronic bingo casino in Lowndes County. King had sought to take over a legal challenge to the casino’s bingo machines that was begun by the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling. The Supreme Court ruled that King couldn’t assume control because the state constitution makes the governor Alabama’s “chief magistrate.”

“We conclude that the common-law powers that have been ‘prescribed’ to the attorney general do not include the power to countermand the ‘chief magistrate’ where the chief magistrate is acting within the bounds of the power given to him,” the Supreme Court said.

King had criticized pre-dawn raids conducted by the task force and said the legality of electronic bingo should be determined through the courts without the drama created by Riley.

“Even though I disagree with a public policy that allows gambling, I have been proud throughout this process to stand up for the true rule of law and for all Alabamians,” King said in his concession statement Monday.

James Anderson, an attorney for Macon County Sheriff David Warren, said the Supreme Court ruling should have no immediate impact on the ongoing operation of Victoryland in Shorter, Alabama’s largest electronic bingo casino. Anderson said a Macon County judge has blocked the governor’s task force from the county because the sheriff and district attorney did not seek its help.

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