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May 17, 2011
For More Information, contact:
Luther Strange
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491
Alabama Attorney General
Suzanne Webb (334) 242-7351
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(MONTGOMERY) – Attorney General Luther Strange issued a memorandum
yesterday to law enforcement and district attorneys throughout Alabama setting out the
legal position that his office will take when investigating and analyzing the legality of
gambling activities. Noting that the Governor’s Executive Order Number 1 returned to the
Attorney General’s Office the primary authority for ensuring that Alabama’s gambling laws
are enforced statewide, Attorney General Strange shared the following points of law:
The Alabama Constitution imposes a strict prohibition against gambling.
Slot machines and other gambling devices are illegal in all 67 counties. Although
several local constitutional amendments authorize “charity bingo” in certain counties, no
amendment authorizes slot machines or other illegal gambling devices in any county.
“Likewise, no local bingo rule, regulation or ordinance can legally authorize slot machines.”
A machine designed to accept cash value such as tokens or a player card with a pin
number, and then dispense cash value prizes based upon any elements of chance, “is an
illegal slot machine, regardless of what game it plays or whether it is connected to any other
machines or equipment.”
Gambling devices used in counties with bingo amendments must play traditional
bingo as defined by the Alabama Supreme Court to include six necessary factors to be legal.
These factors include that each player uses cards with spaces arranged in five columns and
rows with each space assigned a letter, number, or similar designation; that such
alphanumeric or similar designation is randomly drawn and announced one by one; that
each player must pay attention to the announced designations and mark his or her card;
that failing to pay attention and mark card lets player miss the opportunity to win; that
player has to recognize and announce that he has a “bingo”; and that the game is intended
for a group with multiple players competing against one another.
Whether paper or electronic, bingo 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,” stated Attorney General Strange 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.”

A copy of the memorandum is attached.

501 Washington Avenue Montgomery, AL 36104 (334) 242-7300