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CHICKASAW, Ala. -- An electronic bingo hall could open in Chickasaw within weeks, a developer said Tuesday night after the City Council, on a 4-2 vote, agreed to lease the municipal auditorium.

Despite threats from Gov. Bob Riley and Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr., the head of Riley's anti-gambling task force, to slam the door on electronic bingo halls, the council also amended an ordinance that would allow e-bingo within city limits.

James "Pete" Bridges, a Gulf Shores lawyer who launched MS Land Co. Inc. specifically to open halls in Mobile County, said he could have 500 machines operating as soon as logistics were worked out with the city.

The amended ordinance would help the city comply with a November Alabama Supreme Court six-point test to determine the legality of electronic bingo machines. That ruling said that multiple players must compete against each other and mark their own cards.

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View full size<SPAN class=byline>(Press-Register/Mike Kittrell) <SPAN class=caption>Mayor Byron Pittman discusses a proposed electronic bingo hall at the city's auditorium during a city council meeting Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, in Chickasaw, Ala. "We're confident we can meet the six-point test," Bridges said. "We feel that we're going to be a bright-line example of how charity bingo is supposed to be operated in Alabama."

The lease agreement alone could bring in $500,000 a year for the city, Mayor Byron Pittman said, and the entire operation could mean upwards of $4 million in untapped revenue.

In December, the mayor closed the J.C. Davis Auditorium, saying the city could no longer afford to operate the facility. The money acquired from the bingo hall could be used to build a new recreation center, Pittman said.

A large crowd at Tuesday's meeting seemed mixed on the electronic bingo issue.

Resident Kerri Brown said she believed the gambling aspect of the game could mean an increase in crime.

"I don't want to have to worry about those things," she said. "We elected y'all for change because we wanted something different, but this is not the difference we wanted."

Two council members, Mickey Day and Henry Phillips, voted against the lease and the amendment.

"Put two no's by mine," Phillips said of his amendment vote. "I think it's double wrong. And I agree with (Brown) on what it will do to the city. This is the worst thing I've seen happen in Chickasaw since I've began living here."

Another resident, Margaret Czajkowski, however, said she believed a bingo hall could attract more business for the city, which already is home to a paper bingo hall less than a mile from City Hall.

Council members Adam Bourne, Ross Naze and Jennifer White voted in favor of the electronic bingo hall, along with Pittman.

"It's not a cure-all," Bourne said, "but it will help getting our city to where we want it to be. For me, it's not enough for Chickasaw to just get by year after year. ... To turn down an opportunity for economic growth would be irresponsible."



Some of you older members will remember Pete. One of the nicest guys I have ever met and a very good friend. Looks like he isdoing well!
 

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I don't understand this whole thing. How is it that they raided halls in Dothan, Montgomery and B'Ham but left Wind Creek alone ? And here they are opening another one.

I think the governor has some nerve to close these things up and force all those people out of work. I doubt his political future is very bright.
 

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Bob Riley is ruining this State All the money here is going across the state lines daily, no lottery, no bingo there is nothing here to bring people and development in . Nice place to go to church!!! :hoppingmad
 

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Pete is a very smart lawyer and I bet he can and will beat the Gov. at his own game! WATCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A number of you have hunted with Pete on his vast land holdings of past and I know of one that killed a monster there and he was so excited my old ass had to find it and drag it out.
 

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I will not speak for Pete, but I know he had some personal issues and the forum was out of hand and a lot of us backed off but stayed in touch by other ways.
 

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welldoya (2/10/2010)I don't understand this whole thing. How is it that they raided halls in Dothan, Montgomery and B'Ham but left Wind Creek alone ? And here they are opening another one.



I think the governor has some nerve to close these things up and force all those people out of work. I doubt his political future is very bright.


I believe that the Indian Casinos are on Federal land and not subject to state law.
 

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For those that don't keep up with Alabama news---<DIV class=content_masthead> Breaking News from The Birmingham News <DIV class=tagline>Local news updates from Birmingham and surrounding communities</DIV></DIV></DIV><DIV class=contentwell_text id=ContentWell><DIV class="full_entry entry_text"><DIV id=article><H1>Senate committee OK's bill limiting governor's power over investigations</H1><H4>By Kim Chandler -- The Birmingham News </H4><H5>February 10, 2010, 2:48PM</H5>MONTGOMERY -- The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved legislation designed to stop efforts by Gov. Bob Riley's Task Force on Illegal Gambling to shut down bingo casino across the state.

The committee approved the bill on a 7-2 vote. The bill would strip Riley of his power to direct any civil or criminal investigation for the state, leaving only the attorney general with that ability.

Bill sponsor Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, said he believes Riley has overstretched the powers given to him in mounting the task force, which has sent state troopers to conduct raids at bingo operations across the state.

"You subpoena if you want a machine, you don't come in with 120 people," Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, said.

Several district attorneys spoke out against the bill Wednesday, saying it would have "potentially disastrous consequences for local DA's."

"This bill essentially creates superpowers for the attorney general," District Attorney Chris McCool, said. McCool is the district attorney for Fayette, Lamar and Pickens counties.

"It gives him the authority and control not only of criminal and civil cases, but investigations in my circuit. I can't sit back and not say something about that," McCool said.

McCool said district attorneys' opposition to the bill had nothing to do with gambling or who the attorney general is. Singleton said he would be willing to work with the district attorneys about their concerns.
</DIV></DIV></DIV>Pete's got an inside strait on this one! They are going to limit the Gov. and let it happen!</DIV></DIV></DIV>
 

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Pete, sent you a PM. Great to hear from you. Now you have to make it about 3 hours north and start fishing with Fiesty and me. Missed ya' last fall.
 

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REEL FEISTY (2/10/2010)Pete is a very smart lawyer and I bet he can and will beat the Gov. at his own game! WATCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A number of you have hunted with Pete on his vast land holdings of past and I know of one that killed a monster there and he was so excited my old ass had to find it and drag it out.
LMAO James! Yea, I was a lil pumped that night and had to go get the old guys to help me out a lil bit. ;) Those were the good ole days of the forum - don't see much of that anymore or at least I don't. You,Mark (Grome),Pete - some of the "founding fathers" of the PFF. :)

Like James said though, Pete is a very smart attorney and I'm sure he'll do well in his new venture.
 

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risenshine (2/11/2010)Thanks for the kind words James. You are a true friend.
Pete - didn't know you were back on the forum. Good luck with this man, hope you do well! We need to catch up and talk football, particularly Alabama football! :)
 
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