It is unfortunate that operating such machines is tolerated here. It is ridiculous that the State of Alabama has only an arsenal of misdemeanor charges by which to fight illegal gambling.
No wonder State Attorney General Luther Strange and district attorneys across the state like our own Bill Adair are proponents of legislation that would turn slap-on-the-wrist misdemeanors into behind-the-bars felonies.
“Until the Alabama Legislature acts to create an effective deterrent for illegal gambling, individuals will continue to engage in illegal gambling activity and openly defy the law,” Strange says.
Making illegal gambling a felony would give the state more ammunition against those of questionable moral upbringing who thumb their noses at law enforcement while raking in cash hand over fist.
These criminals have nothing to lose. They can purchase additional gambling machines. Such was obviously the case earlier this year when 15 machines were confiscated at Arrowhead Golf Course on Holly Grove Road in January. A similar confiscation occurred at Arrowhead Golf Course four months earlier.
Where is the accountability?
Charge them with a misdemeanor. Force them to pay an insignificant fine. At least their name gets published in the newspaper. And if they are lucky, perhaps we will publish their mug shot. Let’s give them their 15 seconds of fame!
Otherwise, we will continue to read about joint investigative efforts that close down one illegal gambling hall while another opens across the street.
In the past two years more than 90 machines, two guns and about $7,500 have been seized from about 20 gambling facilities here in Walker County. Each machine is valued at $2,000.
The Circuit Court of Walker County holds the machines and cash as evidence until it can navigate time-consuming and costly forfeiture process.
That’s just asinine.
Jack McNeely is the publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle and can be contacted by phone at 205-221-2840 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.