Bentley to assign gambling task force to new AG
Gov.-elect Robert Bentley announced in a statement sent out Wednesday by incoming Attorney General Luther Strange that he would assign the work of the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling to Strange when they both take office on Jan. 17.
"By assigning all pending cases and investigative authority to the Attorney General's office, I have transferred the primary responsibility for ensuring that Alabama's gambling laws are enforced statewide to Attorney General-Elect Luther Strange," Bentley said. "I will fully support Attorney General Luther Strange in his efforts to enforce the laws of Alabama, including laws against illegal gambling. Attorney General Strange will follow the law on gambling and he will have my full support."
Strange vowed not to back down from enforcing the state's gaming laws.
The task force has been controversial under Gov. Bob Riley, who created the force that answered to him after disagreements with current Attorney General Troy King over the interpretation and enforcement of gaming laws in Alabama.
The task force, led first by former Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber and now by Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson, raided or attempted to raid several gaming establishments in the state including VictoryLand in Shorter and Country Crossing near Dothan.
The task force, with the help of local law enforcement, has shut down all electronic gaming in the state at casinos not operated by the Poarch Band of Creeks Indians, which have facilities in Montgomery, Wetumpka and Atmore.
Strange and Bentley, in their joint statement, said the casinos that are currently closed because of the threat of a raid by the task force should not mistake the announcement as an invitation to reopen. The announcement, they said, means that the attorney general will be the statewide officer with the "primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting those that own, operate or house illegal gambling machines."
Some proponents of electronic gaming have accused Riley of killing jobs at casinos that have been open for years during tough economic times.
He said he is simply enforcing the law.
-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen