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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Jefferson Co. ‘bingo’ hall reopens, raided by sheriffcomment (0)

April 14, 2011


The first “electronic bingo” hall known to have reopened in Jefferson County was also the first one to be closed, according to Sheriff Mike Hale.

On April 4, sheriff’s deputies, along with agents from the attorney general’s office, seized more than 500 machines at the Anchor Club in Brighton. The machines were “seized in place,” meaning the building was padlocked until the courts are petitioned to destroy them. If the building can be linked to the gambling operation, then the sheriff’s office will file to have it condemned and sold with the proceeds going to law enforcement, Hale said in an April 4 news release.

“I want to get this out in the open and call it what it is: Illegal gambling on machines that not only are illegal but are unregulated,” he said.

Hale added the investigation is ongoing and an arrest or arrests are expected at its completion.

Even though Brighton is in the Bessemer Cut-off division of the county, prosecutors from the Birmingham division of the district attorney’s office will be appointed to assist the attorney general’s office in resulting prosecutions. Arthur Green, district attorney for the cut-off division, has previously refused to shut down similar gambling operations, saying the state must first shut down gambling operations at Greenetrack in Greene County.

In an April 4 news release, Attorney General Luther Strange said the Anchor Club raid “should serve as a signal to others who have or are contemplating such action that the state of Alabama will not tolerate illegal gambling and that law enforcement officials will stand together to investigate and prosecute suspected crimes.”

“I stand firmly and proudly with Sheriff Mike Hale in seeing that our laws are enforced throughout Jefferson County,” Strange added.

Although two similar bingo operations in Midfield reportedly closed voluntarily after the raid and Fairfield officials warned those in their city planning to reopen to wait, Hale predicted the Anchor Club won’t be the last illegal gambling operation to be shut down.

“We will pick them off one [at] a time and will not stop until Jefferson County is rid of this blight on our poor people … hoping to go from rags to riches spending their last dollars,” he said, adding, “They are not welcome here. Unless our state changes its gambling laws, they will never be welcome here or allowed to operate.”  (TAB)

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