The streets in Tarrant must be safe because police there are focused on raiding bingo halls full of grandmothers.
The Birmingham News has recently reported on authorities’ arrests of bingo hall operators whom they say are operating illegal facilities.
Alabama lawmakers have always been quick to change the laws regarding gambling, making it difficult to keep up with what the state considers legal and what isn’t. But what’s always true is the need for an aggressive Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer ready to defend someone wrongly accused of illegal gambling. As seen here, police and prosecutors like to see big headlines and nightly newscasts, but may have acted too quickly and not done enough research before ruining peoples’ reputations. That’s when an experienced criminal attorney in Birmingham helps.
The situation in the Birmingham area started in recent weeks when officials shut down bingo halls in nearby Midfield and Fairfield. They then moved into Tarrant, arresting two people recently and charging them with 40 counts of illegal possession of gambling devices.
According to Alabama law, charitable bingo is allowed in counties where constitutional amendments have been approved. That includes Jefferson County. But authorities have begun looking at bingo halls that use electronic machines they consider illegal slot machines. They are bingo games, but without the traditional paper, spinning cage of balls and daubers.
The problem is that court rulings have often clouded the issue of what is legal and what isn’t. Sheriffs and police officers have one opinion, while the bingo operators have a different one.
The Alabama Supreme Court, in one case in the past few years, issued a six-point test to determine whether a bingo game was legal that has been cited by law enforcement and prosecutors:
- Each player uses one or more cards with spaces arranged in five columns and five rows, with an alphanumeric or similar designation assigned to each space.
- Alphanumeric or similar designations are randomly drawn and announced one by one.’
- In order to play, each player must pay attention to the values announced; if one of the values matches a value on one or more of the players’ cards, the player must physically act by marking his or her card accordingly.
- A player can fail to pay proper attention or to properly mark his or her card and thereby miss an opportunity to be declared a winner.
- A player must recognize that his or her card has a ‘bingo,’ i.e., a predetermined pattern of matching values, and in turn announce to the other players and the announcer that this is the case before any other player does so.
- The game of bingo contemplates a group activity in which multiple players compete against each other to be the first to properly mark a card with the predetermined winning pattern and announce that fact.
It’s possible that these criminal charges will come down to a strict examination of the machines in question, application of the supreme court’s ruling and other past cases that affect the gambling industry. And all this research should be done by an aggressive Birmingham criminal defense attorney who can apply the law and properly defend these charges.