The resignation of David Barber, former head of Alabama Governor Bob Riley's anti-gambling task force, on disclosures of gambling activity in neighbouring Mississippi may have had sinister undertones, according to a report from Associated Press updating the story.
The press agency quoted Barber's replacement, Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr., this week as claiming that an Alabama casino owner may have been obstructing justice when he hired a detective to trail Barber, who quit after winning $2 300 gambling at a Mississippi casino.
Tyson said he personally had a clean record, and hadn't gambled in nearly 20 years. He went on to question whether Victoryland casino owner Milton McGregor crossed a legal line when he hired a detective to follow Barber to an Indian casino in Mississippi.
"Mr. McGegor needs to be concerned about whether or not he's going to intimidate law enforcement officials from doing their jobs," said Tyson. "I think it borders on obstruction and we are going to look into that immediately."
McGregor, who operates more than 6 000 electronic bingo machines at VictoryLand in Shorter, openly revealed that he had a private investigator follow Barber and witness his winnings at the Golden Moon casino in Philadelphia, Miss.
McGregor defended these activities this week, saying: "You can monitor activities going on around you. Everyone is entitled to do that."
McGregor said Tyson should look at Barber's trip to Mississippi, including whether any other Riley appointees joined him, whether they received free meals and drinks, and how he picked the winning machine.
Responding to the jibe, Tyson said Monday he and his wife, Beth, visited a Mississippi casino shortly after the first casinos opened in 1992 and spent about $20.
"It took us about 15, maybe 20 minutes and we lost it," Tyson said.
He said he had never gambled anywhere else in the United States or abroad, but had been back to a Mississippi casino to see a musical performance and eat in a restaurant.
Associated Press reports that Tyson is a Democrat and Riley a Republican, but they share the same view about the legality of the thousands of electronic bingo machines in Alabama.
"The electronic bingo machines they have are really nothing more than slot machines, and slot machines are illegal," Tyson said at a news conference with Riley.
Riley started the task force a year ago to crack down on gambling. One of its first efforts was to assist Tyson in seizing more than 120 illegal gambling devices from Mobile businesses in March.
Since then, the task force has raided one of the state's largest electronic bingo halls in White Hall and tried to raid Gilley's Country Crossing at Dothan before being stopped by a judge.
Tyson would make no comments about possible targets or raids, but he said laws allowing bingo in some counties were written for traditional bingo cards, not machines.
"Your grandmother's bingo game is what is authorised," he said.