Alabama AG makes no decision on Riley’s task force

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 11, 2010

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Alabama’s attorney general emerged from a closed-door meeting Wednesday with the governor saying he will need a few more days to decide whether he will try to take over the governor’s gambling task force and end raids on electronic bingo casinos.

Attorney General Troy King and Gov. Bob Riley met in private for about 90 minutes in Riley’s Capitol office. The meeting came two days after a Jefferson County judge ruled that the attorney general has legal authority over the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling if he wants to exercise it.

“The governor and I both have a lot to think about, and we will be thinking about it over the next few days,” a somber-looking attorney general said after the meeting.

The governor’s press secretary, Todd Stacy, said Riley had no comment.

Riley calls electronic bingo “illegal slot machines” and has used his task force to try to shut down thousands of machines. King, who was Riley’s legal adviser before becoming attorney general in 2004, has criticized the task force’s raids and the attempted ones, but so far has not used his authority as the state’s top law officer to take over Riley’s task force.

On Monday, Circuit Judge Robert Vance of Birmingham ordered King to advise him by March 22 on whether King supports the governor’s task force and its March 2009 raid of a Lowndes County casino. Riley said Monday he plans to appeal the decision.

The meeting between the governor and attorney general was scheduled before that order, King said.

Going into the meeting, King said he prefers a more civil approach than raiding electronic bingo halls and would like to see a court case that would allow the Alabama Supreme Court to issue a definitive ruling.

In other developments, a federal judge rejected a request from Country Crossing in Dothan to shield it from the governor’s gambling task force. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued a two-sentence order ruling against the casino late Tuesday.

Country Crossing closed Jan. 29 to prevent a raid by the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling. Then it sought a temporary restraining order from the federal court to prevent the task force from trying to seize any games.

“This was another attempt by illegal slot machine operators to hijack the criminal justice system and carve out special rules so they can enrich themselves,” task force commander John Tyson said Wednesday.

Country Crossing spokesman Jay Walker said the business was trying to stop “the governor’s illegal task force form destroying our property.”

Country Crossing remains closed, as does the Lowndes County casino, White Hall Entertainment Center. Greenetrack in Eutaw and VictoryLand in Shorter are open.