• 70°

How does one define gambling?

In 2006, asked by the local American Legion Post, Rep. Charles Newton submitted a bill that would have legalized bingo for charitable purposes within Butler County. Money collected through these games would have funded scholarships for well-deserving youth in Greenville, Georgiana and McKenzie.

However, the Christian Coalition of Alabama immediately attacked Newton and the Legionnaires for trying to propagate gambling in Butler County. Newton, citing a “bad environment” for proposing any legislation – charitable or otherwise – where gambling was concerned, quietly withdrew the bill.

Four years later and we’re still talking about gambling. Gov. Bob Riley, his last full term in office, is intent on the banishment of gambling, in all its shapes, fashions, and forms, from Alabama.

It’s likely that, if he could, Riley would strip the very word “gambling” from the minds and memories of Alabamians and post National Guardsmen along the borders of this great state to prevent travel to Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, and Mississippi where we might gamble to contentment and bring those old vices back with us, (we’re probably getting an ‘Amen’ from some reading this, possibly the same ones that make a weekend home at Atmore, or White Hall, or Biloxi, yet feverishly oppose “gambling”).

It’s telling that Riley and Attorney General Troy King can’t agree on just what gambling is. For Riley it’s one thing. For King it’s another. For the Supreme Court of Alabama it’s this. Is it any wonder that Alabamians are at odds? When even our public officials can’t determine what is and what isn’t considered the act of “gambling?” If gambling is illegal why has Milton McGregor turned VictoryLand into the future Las Vegas of the south? Why do places like White Hall and Country Crossing even exist? Apparently it’s because there is gambling and there is…well…gambling. But only a little bit?

Going back to Newton’s bill four years ago: We would be greatly interested if someone would tell us why this would have been a bad thing. Charity bingo? A prelude to “Sin City?”

And, likely, given the current climate against “gambling” in this state, this bill won’t come up again in the near future.

But why would a child from this county need a scholarship anyway?