Alabama Scene

Coming to ‘strange’ conclusions



The Internal Revenue Service says Class III gaming “consists of card games played against the house, slot machines, dog and horse racing, jai alai, and all other types of casino gaming.”

So what are those machines with bells, whistles, and flashing lights at the three Poarch Creek Indian Casinos in Alabama? Go to the question site and Class III is the class of gambling in which slot machines are played. But are the machines in the Indian casinos real slot machines? Even if they were some say it appears they would be legal in Alabama.

Nonetheless our “astute” Attorney General Luther Strange is now asking the Federal Indian Gaming Commission (IGC), the group that oversees Indian gambling, to take action to prohibit “slot machine-like” electronic bingo machines at the state’s Indian casinos.

Tribes cannot offer Las Vegas-style Class III games such as table games and slot machines unless they have a compact with the states where they are located. There’s no such compact in Alabama.

But look again. That IRS section quoted above lists dog and horse racing as Class III gaming and it is generally thought that if a state authorizes any Class III-type gambling, the Indian tribes would be permitted to operate Class III games. Alabama certainly allows wagering on Class III dog and horse racing both live and via simulcast from tracks around the country.

Strange told the IGC that the Poarch Creeks are obscuring the line between Class II and III and that makes it harder for his office to enforce Alabama law outside of Indian land. “Alabamians are understandably confused when Indian tribes are allowed to call their Class III slot machines ‘bingo,’ but gambling promoters within the State’s jurisdiction cannot use the same gimmick," Strange told The Birmingham News.

Strange said the proposed IGC rules, "do nothing to give teeth to the important distinction" between a bingo game played with an electronic aid and a slot machine.

Notice that the AG seems confused about whether or not the Indian machines are slots or bingo machines. There’s an easy distinction out there Mr. AG. Go to a real casino where slots are legal and observe whether those machines look, function, or play like electronic bingo devices. They don’t and that fact answers the question and differentiates them from slots.

Let’s see, Mr. Strange, your buddy Bob Riley intimidated and shut down electronic bingo operations in several places, eliminating nearly 6000 jobs in some of our poorest counties. How many jobs do you have your sights on at the Native American operations, or is this just a fishing operation to help Riley’s pals at the Mississippi Choctaw casinos get more Alabama business?

Strange asked the same question to the IGC last year and was told that the tribe "may play electronic bingo so long as it otherwise meets IGC’s Class II gaming definition."

But the question of whether or not the State of Alabama has the authority to regulate gambling at all on Poarch sovereign land is also a question that must be answered according to one Poarch official. Chaperoning the Secret Service

Responding to the flap over activities of some Secret Service agents on the President’s trip to the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Columbia, the agency will now be assigning chaperones for agents.

Embarrassed by a prostitution scandal, it is reported that the Secret Service will assign chaperones on some trips to enforce new rules of conduct which make clear that excessive drinking, entertaining foreigners in their hotel rooms, and cavorting in disreputable establishments are no longer tolerated. The stricter measures, issued by the Secret Service on Friday for agents and employees, apply even when traveling personnel are off duty.

The President even entered into a bit of humor about the incident at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner last Friday.

“I had a lot more material prepared, but I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew,” Obama deadpanned at the annual White House event.

One writer observed that it was a shame the Secret Service didn’t send supervisors on the trip.

“Supervisors would have had the authority to impose some discipline on these advance teams and remind them that their actions could prove embarrassing to the US, and possibly endanger their security arrangements for the President. Wait – what was that? The Cartagena team had three supervisors, all of whom participated in the scandal?”

Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. E-mail him at: