MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange issued a memorandum Tuesday to law enforcement and district attorneys throughout the state to settle the legal position his office will take when investigating gambling activities.
Strange's office noted that the state governor's Executive Order number 1, returned the primary authority to ensure Alabama's gambling laws are enforced statewide back to the attorney general's office. The first point of the memorandum was that the Alabama Constitution imposes a strict prohibition against gambling.
Slot machines and other gambling devices are illegal in all 67 counties and despite some local constitutional amendments authorizing "charity bingo," no amendment authorizes slot machines or illegal devices in any county. Any machine designed to accept cash value like tokens or a player card with a pin number and then dispense cash value prizes based on any element of chance counts as an illegal slot machine, "regardless of what game it plays or whether it is connected to any other machines or equipment," Strange said.
In counties with bingo amendments, gambling devices used must play traditional bingo as defined by the Alabama Supreme Court. The six necessary factors the bingo must include to be legal are that each player uses cards with spaces arranged in five columns and rows with each space assigned a letter, number of similar designation; that each player must pay attention to the announced designation and mark his or her own card; that player has to recognize and announce that he has a "bingo"; that such alphanumeric or similar designation is randomly drawn and announced one by one; that failing to pay attention and mark card lets player miss the opportunity to win; and that the game is intended for a group with multiple players competing against one another.
The game of bingo, whether paper or electronic, must be operated for a charity in strict accordance with the requirements of the county's constitutional amendment.
"Under the previous Attorney General, an advisory opinion was issued that in effect gutted these requirements. I have revoked this opinion," Strange said in the memorandum, "This office will place a substantial focus on ensuring that any bingo facilities operating pursuant to a constitutional amendment meet each and every operational requirement contained in the applicable constitutional amendment. These requirements will be literally and strictly applied."