Bingo is set to be back in the Bessemer
cutoff, at least for now. Less than 24 hours after players heard Judge
Eugene Verin gave the games the 'go ahead' Monday, they're already on
the prowl to play.
"Just out and about seeing which ones are open and which ones are going to be open,"says Richard Dixon, bingo player who drove to Midfield from Center Point.
Bingo hall operators in Midfield and Fairfield are feverishly trying to fill out business license applications. They want to get in on the games while the gettin' is still good. Each hall is expected to hold new table top machines which are activated by cards. The machines were apparently specially designed to comply with Alabama law.
The same sense of eagerness and excitement is also coming from Midfield City leaders.
"We've been operating on what we need not necessarily what we want," says Gary Richardson, Midfield mayor.
Now there's a chance the city can get afford to get what it wants because in order to open, area bingo hall operators have to pay the city thousands of dollars in fees up front. In addition, "They pay a licensing fee of $15,000 (in advance) and that's up front, non- refundable," says Richardson.
"We hope as they're endeavoring to have themselves set back up again (bingo halls) that we don't see some response from the state. Hopefully we will not," says Michael Trucks, Fairfield City attorney.
Fairfield's City attorney, Michael Trucks, supports the ruling. He says hopefully it will be upheld meaning hall operators can open without fear of interference from the Jefferson County Sheriff or District Attorney's office.
"I think it is well reasoned. It is based on law and I would expect it to be upheld. I never want to say for sure though because I'm surprised every day when I come to the office," says Trucks.
Trucks says if bingo is a 'go' in Greene
County, why not the Bessemer Cutoff. He says both areas have
constitutional amendments and ordinances.
"Addresses a very basic principal of American jurisprudence and that is equal protection under the law," says Trucks.
ABC 33/40 tried to find out more information on the reasoning behind this ruling and whether it will face resistance. However, Judge Verin says he can't talk about the case. District Attorney, Arthur Greene, says he won't talk about this case until he hears more from Attorney General, Luther Strange.
In an emailed statement Deputy Attorney General Sonny Reagan writes:
"Yesterday afternoon the City of Fairfield and Arthur Green, District Attorney for Jefferson County, Bessemer Division, jointly moved the Jefferson County Circuit Court to reinstate its November 2009 order. Just before close of business, the Court responded with a brief order that effectively enjoins both District Attorney Green and Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale from enforcing the law with respect to bingo operations within the Bessemer Cutoff."
"The Alabama Supreme Court has made clear that circuit courts lack the authority, in a civil case like this one, to enjoin law enforcement from effectively enforcing the criminal laws of this State. Accordingly, the circuit court's order is incorrect as a matter of law. Attorney General Strange has directed his Office to appear on behalf of Sheriff Hale and take all steps necessary to have the court's order stayed and, ultimately, vacated."