A new Bingo Hall in Hobson City, Alabama set to open in September is put on delay once again due to issues that have arisen over the legality of e-Bingo, or electronic Bingo devices. The man who is opening the new Bingo Hall – to be named I-20 Bingo, explained that opening was originally scheduled in April but was set- back due to problems with renovation. Rogers will open in September and offer paper Bingo only, until the legal issues regarding electronic Bingo can be ironed out. The revenue that the Bingo Hall is expected to bring in will assist Hobson City with funding to acquire one or two new much needed police officers.
Prison Sentence for Bingo Fiends
Three Alabama men were sentenced to prison on July 16, 2012 for their involvement in conspiracy and bribery of the Alabama State Legislature. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson imposed the sentence based on guilty pleas. Of the nine defendants on trial, none were convicted. U.S. District Court acquired victory through guilty pleas by the four individuals who have pleaded thus far. The conspiracy revolved around legislation that would permit electronic Bingo in the State. One of the defendants, Ronald Gilley, local businessman owned a controlling interest in real estate that would have stood to profit from an implementation of electronic Bingo. According to recent AP reports, there still may be more charges pending.
Legalities over Electronic Bingo to Blame
The new I-20 Bingo Hall will open in September, says Larry Rogers, the man responsible for the new facility. The first date set to open in April was delayed due to renovation set-backs. Rogers did not want open the new Bingo Hall in the summer because school is out and many people are on vacation – “Bingo is the last thing on their minds”, said Rogers. Calhoun County Bingo Commission had granted full approval for the facility and the use of electronic Bingo devices. Alabama law grants authority to the Bingo Commission to approve Bingo permit applications and issuances. The Calhoun County District attorney, however, sent a letter to the commission informing them that the electronic devices are not legal in Calhoun County.
According to Bingo Commissioner Ralph Woods, legislation would have to change the current regulations in order for the electronic Bingo to be used. Paper Bingo is legal in the county under the condition that a minimum of 10% of money raised is donated to charity or educational donations. Woods himself does not have a problem with the devices, which are TAB-e machines manufactured by Video King of Nebraska. The devices are much like a tablet computer with a touch screen. The Bingo cards are loaded on the device and players can mark off numbers for all of the cards simultaneously.
Hobson’s Police-Force or Lack Thereof, Hangs in the Balance
Hobson City residents and official alike have been waiting for almost a year for the new Bingo Hall to open. They are counting on the extra revenue that is expected to be generated to re-establish a much needed city police force. Hobson City residents are quite concerned over speeding, lack of general safety, and the streets being used as drag strips. Last year a man was shot and killed in Hobson City, further generating public concern for the safety of the residents. Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office is currently the only ‘acting’ law enforcement for the town.
The town is not patrolled on a regular basis, but typically only come to town when a resident calls in a complaint. In 2006 the last police chief, Daryl Parker was convicted on two counts of weapon sales to a convicted felon along with one count of extortion. The department has been closed ever since despite efforts by the town council to find a way to fund permanent law enforcement. The Hobson City Mayor, stated that the new officers would perform all of the duties that any law enforcement agency would – from responding to calls to traffic and patrol. McCrory conveyed that residents still want to know when they will get perm anent police officers.