Gilley Fired-Up Over Electronic Bingo Issue

By: Tim Elliott Email
By: Tim Elliott Email

Electronic bingo continues to be a hot-button issue in Alabama.

Monday, Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley sat down for a one-on-one chat with news 4 to talk about his on-going feud with Alabama governor Bob Riley.

The whole electronic bingo issue certainly burned more than a few bridges between the governor's office and Gilley.

Gilley says despite the setbacks, he's ready to open for business.

“There's one word and one word only: bingo,”

That one word is at the center of a statewide controversy.
It's also the most crucial component to the Country Crossing project.

“You have to understand the bingo aspect of this is an absolute necessity. There's so much more here than bingo, unfortunately our governor is obsessed with bingo as we speak today,” said Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley.

Gilley claims governor Riley is trying to eliminate bingo statewide to keep funneling Alabama residents into Mississippi to spend money and gamble.

He alleges riley has financial ties to the Mississippi-based Choctaw tribe.

"I think governor Riley is honoring his commitments he made during the 2002 gubernatorial campaign. I didn’t see the governor take any money, I don’t know for a fact that he did."

Gilley says Riley doesn't have the authority to shut down operations in Alabama run by Native Americans.

“He's telling you and he's telling me that if he closes them down then I close the Indians down that's not going to happen he has no jurisdiction whatsoever over the native Americans,”

“He's been very disingenuous with the citizens of Alabama when he says that bingo is illegal here,”

A former Riley supporter, Gilley says the governor has abused his power.

“Unfortunately in my opinion he has maliciously abused his office for the past year and a half for his personal agenda and his personal agenda is to eliminate bingo in the state of Alabama,”

“I voted for Governor Riley twice, I’m not butting heads with him. I am just exercising my right as an Alabama citizen to bring a great project to fruition,”
A fired-up Gilley says, he won't stay quiet.

“My political advisors are having heart attacks right now cause they're saying be quiet be quiet you don't need to talk you just sit back and just let politics work itself out. That's what's wrong with our country today is politics, politics, politics!”

Here's a statement from the governor's office:

“Governor Riley isn’t shutting down bingo anywhere. That’s ridiculous.
He’s shutting down slot machines disguised as so-called ‘electronic bingo’.
There is nothing personal about enforcing the law. The state cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce and which ones to ignore. No one is above the law in Alabama.”

Gilley says the governor's office has yet to accept his invitation to tour Country Crossing and discuss the project.

Gilley says if it weren't for all the roadblocks they've experienced, country crossing would have been open nine months ago and 2,800 people would be employed.


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  • by Ken Location: Enterprise on Nov 25, 2009 at 08:59 AM
    Whatever. Gilley needs a scapegoat for when his "bingo" is determined not to be bingo at all. This guy is dumber than a bag of hammers. The only ones who are dumber are those who have blindly followed Gilley without questioning him one bit.
  • by Helen Location: Cottonwood on Nov 24, 2009 at 02:17 PM
    Did you know that a waitress makes 8.00 dollars an hour plus tips at country crossing??? They pay more then the rest of the restaurants. Good going Country Crossing. Keep up the good work. Riley butt out.
  • by Sue Location: Enterprise on Nov 24, 2009 at 01:39 PM
    Ken, you are totally wrong when you say Ronnie Gilley is an embarrassemtn. That honor goes to you and people of your mind set. CC is a good thing to hit this area. The number of jobs it has created and will create will only stimulate our economy. So will all the people spending money in Dothan. It's unfortunate that Coffee County leaders were narrow minded just as you are. If they had not have been, CC could have been here instead and the money in our area! BTW - I am not a "cult follower" because I beleive in diversification and economic growth, but you sir are an idiot!
  • by Ken Location: Enterprise on Nov 24, 2009 at 11:20 AM
    Gilley is an embarrassment. Every time he goes on tv, people think that's what the Wiregrass is like. He sold Dothan on a bad idea and now he's blaming it all on the governor. To me, the governor is the only one who has been consistent. He said the machines were illegal. Now we're finding out that he was right. Sounds like Gilley and his cult of followers should have listened a long time ago. I'm glad they are building this crap in Houston County and not anywhere close to Enterprise. If it ever opens, you can keep the riff raff it brings down in Houston County.
  • by KL Location: Enterprise on Nov 24, 2009 at 09:27 AM
    The same people who voted the lottery down are all for the Bingo. The Baptist Association has come out opposing Electronic Bingo yet y'all keep feeding them money every Wed and Sunday. Makes no sense. 90% of the jobs are minimum wage. Trading one restaurant job for another isn't exactly what you'd call progress.
  • by Jay Location: West Point on Nov 24, 2009 at 08:16 AM
    Ronnie has been strong and a great leader during this entire project. Working with him daily, I have had the unique opportunity to see what happens when the doors are shut. We had a quote in our football locker room that said: "Character is doing the right thing when no one is looking." I can tell you, he is a man of character and his generosity is one of his greatest attributes. He wakes every morning with a laser focus of opening Country Crossing. Not for himself anymore, but for the people that it will employ and the people it will entertain long after we are all gone. A fitting tribute to a man that has laid it all on the line.
  • by ssjason Location: dothan on Nov 24, 2009 at 05:21 AM
    Thank you Mr Ronnie Gilley. I understand your PR people may have some concerns, however, that was the strongest argument for CC that has been reported in all the media bs since the project began. Not only are you spot on with your facts, your enthusiasm and passion for doing what is right is certainly hard to miss. Doing what is right, economic development in hard times in a depressed area on your own dollar. And as far as being rich, you are sir, in more ways than you know. It's about making a positive impact on others. That's something money can't buy. Something the others in Montgomery are trying to hang on to, money, in their pockets. Unfortunately, they don't get it. Keep up the good work Mr Gilley and don't listen to your PR people. It is time for you to let everyone know who is running this show. I think it goes without saying your project will be a major success and I look forward to the Grand Opening in December!
  • by Terrie Location: Slocomb on Nov 24, 2009 at 05:10 AM
    Mr Robert, Sir if you know anything about the Machines you would know there is a difference sounds like you are angry at Mr Gilley..he said all the time there's more then Bingo at the CC why would it be a Entertainment Resort if it was only Bingo?If you like to Gamble why would you be upset whatever it is called?Sounds like someone don't want it here?
  • by Michael Location: Daleville on Nov 23, 2009 at 09:51 PM
    I have to agree with most of the comments so far. Although I do not gamble, I have no objections to gambling. With the state of today's economy, is it really a good idea to open a new casino? Absolutely not. Gambling is recreation. Hitting the jackpot is every poor man's pipe dream, and it will do nothing to help the current situation. Yes, Alabama is 50 years behind, and the state needs industry. Pick any major industrial city and look what they have that AL doesn't (major waterways). Dothan isn't a real city. It's a junction to other highways paved with chain restaurants and small businesses. If the current health care bill gets passed, the city will dry up. Business owners will not be able to provide health insurance for all their workers, thus eliminating more jobs. In turn, more people will rely upon welfare, and the stupid ones will spend that gambling. There will be more homeless and crime will skyrocket. Gambling preys on these types. We need to get our heads right.
  • by Robert Location: Cottonwood on Nov 23, 2009 at 06:59 PM
    I really wish that everyone involved would stop calling this BINGO. It is not. The machines are slot machines, plain and simple. I love to gamble and have played machines in Alabama, Vegas, Biloxi, Atlantic City, New York, Connecticut, etc, etc. The machines all work the same way, some have a little bingo game on top, some dont. For Gilley to say in this interview that Country Crossing "Is so much more than bingo" is a contradiction to what he had said in the past when promoting the development, in the past he has said the "bingo" will make the development be viable. Why will "bingo" make it viable?? Because he would NEVER make enough money from a bunch of restaurants and B&B hotels to pay back his investors. Why would "bingo" help?? Simple answer. THE HOUSE ALWAYS WINS. If you don't believe me go to Victoryland any night of the week, stand outside the front doors and watch the losers walk out after spending the rent and food money gambling. It is pretty sad to see.
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