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Friday, January 15, 2010

Country Crossing developer responds to Barber resignation

Ronnie Gilley, developer of Country Crossing, said he was appalled that the commander of the governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling was trying to shut down casinos in Alabama while gambling in Mississippi. He said the revelation "proves the hypocrisy associated with the top office in the state of Alabama."
Thousands of Alabamians including David Barber, the commander of the task force who resigned this week, cross the border every day and spend $35,000 an hour gambling in Mississippi, Gilley said.
The developer said he believes the situation strongly insinuates that there are ulterior motives for Gov. Bob Riley's crackdown on gambling. He said he believes Riley is seeking to eliminate competition for the Mississippi Indians, give a monopoly to Indian casinos here and destroy his development.
Gilley asked if Barber might have had any other business to conduct while at the casino.
If the governor was to close down Country Crossing, GreeneTrack and VictoryLand, Gilley said there would still be gambling in Alabama at Indian facilities that are not taxable.
Friday was also the grand opening at Country Crossing, a country-music-themed entertainment complex with dinner theaters and restaurants operated by music stars.
Gilley said Friday night that more than 12,000 people were there and he expected about 30,000 Saturday.
He said a search warrant and raid were not necessary because the facility is open and representatives of the governor have been invited to the site more than 20 times. The governor did not respond, he said, and did not have people attend county commission meetings, hearings and other events where the development was discussed.
Gilley said a world-renowned company certified every machine in the facility to be legal by Alabama law and said that the task force was invited. He said they decided instead to spend taxpayer money to raid the facility with machine guns and body armor.
The developer said Friday was a sad day because they were denied due process and no hearing by the Alabama Supreme Court, which essentially allowed a raid on Country Crossing to move forward by dismissing a lawsuit. He said the task force could cost 1,500 people their jobs.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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