In response to a recent move by the Alabama Baptist State Convention, Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP) Executive Director Joe Godfrey, along with more than 60 Baptist pastors, held a press conference on Wednesday to state their opposition to casino gambling and call on the Attorney General and district attorneys to enforce the state's laws pertaining to gambling.
On Tuesday, the Alabama Baptist State Convention passed a resolution condemning so-called electronic bingo gambling and praising Governor Bob Riley for his efforts to stop illegal gambling in Alabama.
Last Friday, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that only the traditional game of bingo is allowed under Alabama law, not bingo played on a slot machine.
“We oppose casino gambling, including electronic slot machines, because it is predatory in nature, playing on the weaknesses of the state's citizens,” Godfrey said. “Legalized gambling causes social and economic damage to communities and families and should not be allowed into Alabama.
“The time for foot dragging is over,” he said. “Our Supreme Court has issued an opinion setting forth in great detail what constitutes a legal game of ‘bingo’ and not one of the so-called electronic bingo machines currently being operated in this state can qualify under the court’s definition. Any attempt to delay the application of this ruling would only allow organized gambling to do more social and economic damage in Alabama communities.”
Godfrey commended Gov. Riley “for recognizing the harmful effects of gambling and for taking steps to rid our state of this evil.”
“Now we call on Alabama's Attorney General and district attorneys throughout the state to enforce the law, as it has been interpreted by the Alabama Supreme Court, and shut down the illegal casinos, ridding our state of bingo slots once and for all!”
Godfrey warned that serious pressure would be coming during the 2010 Alabama legislative session to pass new laws legalizing some form of electronic gambling.
This may come in a push for a statewide up or down vote on the issue.
“The gambling industry will be pushing our legislators for a vote,” he said. “They have zillions of dollars to spend on ads promoting gambling, while the opposition will be churches that will have to pull money from missions and ministry funds to fight the effort.”
Godfrey urged citizens to contact their legislators and ask them to vote down any gambling bills.
This issue is also going to be a concern in the 2010 election cycle, Godfrey noted. The gambling industry has a lot of money to spend there as well, so citizens need to be vocal now about their concerns.