Strange times, again
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Feb 19, 2013 | 3412 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Baracades are installed at the entrance to Victoryland Casino in Shorter after Attorney Gen. Luther Strange shut the casino down. A statement from Strange says VictoryLand is operating in "open defiance" of laws against gambling. Photo: Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser/Associated Press
Baracades are installed at the entrance to Victoryland Casino in Shorter after Attorney Gen. Luther Strange shut the casino down. A statement from Strange says VictoryLand is operating in "open defiance" of laws against gambling. Photo: Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser/Associated Press
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When it comes to casino gambling in Alabama, the names of those in power in state government — Bob Riley, Troy King, Robert Bentley, Luther Strange — are interchangeable, yet the result is the same.

In truth, it’s still unclear whether casino gambling is legal in Alabama. The state Legislature, fearful of political ramifications, hasn’t settled the issue. Interpretations of existing laws aren’t uniform. Local-level officials in counties with casinos fight any attempt to shut them down and, thus, lay off casino workers.

It’s one big regrettable puzzle that’s no closer to being solved today than it was when Riley, the former governor, and King, the former attorney general, embarked on a competition to see whose office had the power to shutter Alabama’s casinos.

Alabama has Strange, the current attorney general, to thank for Tuesday’s recurrence of the Great Casino Game. By 9 a.m., his office had authorized the raid on Milton McGregor’s VictoryLand in Shorter and filed suit against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who operate casinos on federally protected Indian territory in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka.

Alabamians, get ready.

We’re headed back to court.

In keeping with recent Montgomery tradition, Strange has decided not to wait on a legislative solution — which surely would be fraught with difficulties, given the Legislature’s murky history with gambling bills. Instead, he’d rather raid the casinos, haul out their slot machines, padlock the doors and let the fallout be dealt with in court. It’s the same scenario we’ve seen time and time again.

Strange, however, is ratcheting up the state’s fusillade against casino gambling by going after the Poarch Creek casinos. That’s a new tact that seems destined to fail. The Indian casinos aren’t subject to Alabama laws on the legality of gambling. They’re allowed by federal law.

We’re all for upholding the laws of Alabama. Without them, there is anarchy. If anything, this latest attempt to close McGregor’s casinos again proves Alabama needs an ironclad legislative fix to this problem. No loopholes, no gray areas. Pass the legislation and, if handled as a constitutional amendment, let the people vote.

As for Strange’s suit against the Poarch Creeks, well, it seems either a useless ploy or a political grandstand. Perhaps it’s both.
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