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  • Writer Login


    Raider Riley Rides Again

    by | 6 | Jan 31, 2010

    Alabama Gov. Robert Riley wants to shut down electronic gaming in the state. At his orders, state troopers have been making secret midnight and 2 a.m. raids on the large lucrative casino at VictoryLand Greyhound Park, in Shorter, and at Country Crossing casino and country music park, in Dothan.

    Bold move, probably appreciated by the anti-gambling faction. Go Bob.

    There’s just one picky problem: Electronic bingo is legal. Mere semantics, Riley says. Calling the machines “bingo” is skirting the issue, which is that they are slot machines, he says.

    So, back to the raids. Picture a stream of squad cars, lights flashing, sirens whooping, followed by semi trucks with empty cargo holds ready to receive thousands of slot machines. (I am not sure whether the troopers were going to empty the money out of the slots first and give the casinos their contents. That detail was never mentioned.)

    Wednesday and Thursday nights of last week, the playbook was the same: surround the casinos’ doors, enter en masse and seize the casinos’ assets. Raider Riley was gonna clean up Dodge.

    Problem was, the troopers had no warrants to enter the premises and search or seize anything. 
Riley had obtained a warrant at a previous time for a previous raid, but it had expired.

    The casino operators were within their rights and adamant: No warrant, no entry. No and hell no. And “Get off this private property!”

    The troopers, lights and sirens now off, turned tail and drove back out to the highway where they parked, all 20 or so vehicles, plus semis, on the shoulder and waited for further orders. And they waited. And waited. 

Hours later, unable to get the paperwork for his raiders, Riley called them all back to Montgomery or to the posts from which they came.

    Alabama Attorney General Troy King has advised the governor that seizing the assets of these businesses could well leave him (and the public safety director) open to lawsuits. He and others have also pointed out that the casinos generate millions of tax bucks, payroll and other, for the state and counties. They provide thousands of jobs, too.

    Raider Riley did not like the Attorney General’s advice. He fired back angrily, saying that the AG is more concerned with protecting the gambling industry than the laws of the state.

    For now, the slots continue ringing up money for the casinos, and we the taxpayers are out thousands of dollars for trooper overtime, coffee and gas.

    ###
    Gita M. Smith

    Gita M. Smith

    Gita M. Smith is a former Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer who covered Alabama — yes, the whole state — for the paper’s national desk where she fell under  the dangerous influence of Keith Graham and Ron Taylor.  She writes flash fiction at 6S, Thinking 10 and fictionaut.

     

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    • A pity we the people are having to pay for this pissing match. The backwoods, Brylcremed pissant-in-chief fancies himself as another Buford Pusser, I guess.

    • Gita

      I say this as an editorial opinion and nothing more than my own opinion: Riley is doing this to help the Choctaw Indians who own the Mississippi casinos and who want all the gamblersto come to them. We do know that the Choctaws contributed to Riley’s re-election campaign; we just do not know how much.

    • Jim Smith

      If Governor/Raider Bob wants to make up his own law without even having a crony AG to crank out a phony supporting policy, then he makes his own bed.

      But on the other hand, doesn’t he have to disclose contributions, especially out-of-state ones?

      I recall some prominent Republican lobbyist getting himself and a famous conservative religious activist in trouble over this sort of thing a few years ago.

    • Gita

      We have to trust that someone, someday, will be able to say for sure how much money changed hands between the Choctaws and Riley’s anti-gambling task force. I am told that some of the troopers don’t like doing the raids because they know how many jobs will be lost in those communities.

    • C Smith

      Gita are you saying the Choctaws own all the casinos in Biloxi and Gulf Port Miss.?

    • mike cox

      Gita,
      Nice work. I took a more humorous approach (I hope) for my weekly Columbia Star column. We Alabamians don’t have to take a back seat to anyone where sleazy politicians are concerned.

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