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Monday, 24 October 2011 08:10

The Alabama Bingo Scandal

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As much as we love to play online bingo, it’s not a game that makes the headlines all that often. Fun, uncomplicated, unassuming; the best online bingo games are fast and furious but utterly uninvolved in the kind of scandal that often afflicts other games in the industry.

Whilst perhaps not quite being sanctified by the church, no deposit bingo is as close as you’ll get to innocent gaming entertainment. Formerly favoured by sweet little old ladies, the people who play online bingo are now much younger but no less sweet; communities meet online to play their favourite numbers game and shoot the breeze, making lifelong friendships in the process.


So it’s no small surprise that the game has landed itself in the news by becoming embroiled in the latest scandal to rock US politics.


Milton McGregor, owner of Alabama racino ‘Victoryland’, was arrested late last year along with 10 state senators and lobbyists after investigations into improprieties of state gambling legislation. McGregor was accused of offering a bribe to Senator Quinton Ross in exchange for his vote of support for a constitutional amendment that would have allowed electronic bingo machines in the state.


McGregor’s lawyers have argued that McGregor was not present when the bribe was discussed by Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley and he has since been declared not guilty of three of seventeen charges. The others have been declared mistrials and he and several other defendants are due to stand trial again early next year.


Myron H Thompson, the federal judge presiding over the case, delivered a blistering statement accusing the witnesses of blatant racism and a ‘desire to suppress black votes by manipulating what issues appeared on the 2010 ballot.’ The amendment was passed by the senate in March 2010, but was derailed shortly afterwards when the FBI announced its investigation into corruption. Thompson surmises that derailing the amendment was the chief goal of Republican lawmakers as a gambling referendum would encourage African-American voter turnout because black people tend to support gambling – and vote Democratic.


As we in the UK freely indulge in the best online bingo games, it’s hard not to be amazed that something so simple and fun has been at the centre of all this controversy. Will the amendment be able to get back on track? Only time will tell. In the meantime, thousands of keen bingo players across the state of Alabama will have to make do with solitaire.