Attorney General Troy King, the state’s top cop, has urged using a different approach — legislation or a Supreme Court ruling that would redefine gambling’s confusing existence in Alabama.
The feud between Riley and King is real. So, too, is the gambling-tinted chaos that’s enveloped the state.
Each day that passes with no palatable resolution brings Alabama closer to a modern-day constitutional crisis.
Today, Alabama is home to warring government factions that sit atop Goat Hill, the governor’s office on one side, the attorney general’s office on the other. The argument’s root cause may be gambling’s legality, but the real battle is over control between Riley and King.
Alabama deserves better governance than this.
Initially, Riley’s forming of a gambling task force to enforce laws he believed King ignored represented a minor blip on Montgomery radar. If anything, it highlighted the need to seek clarity on gambling, since Alabama has no lottery but does allow dog tracks, electronic bingo and casinos in scattered locations thanks to a hodge-podge collection of laws and Indian compacts.
But today’s crisis is no minor blip. Riley took this issue to another level in January when his task force used state troopers to raid — without search warrants — VictoryLand in Shorter and Country Crossing in Dothan.
Those raids ratcheted up political rhetoric and made gambling the No. 1 issue during a critical election year. They’ve also divided legislators over electronic bingo’s legality, legislation that would put gambling to a public vote, and protection of jobs and local revenue at the state’s bingo halls.
King used his Wednesday news conference to urge the governor to halt the raids and seek a state Supreme Court ruling that would cover all 67 Alabama counties. That idea carries strong merit.
This editorial board again advises Riley to slow his task force’s engines. It is unproductive and unwise to continue this crusade in this manner. Questionable early morning raids and unbecoming public battles with the attorney general are not what we’d expect from this governor.
Whether through legislation, the ballot or a Supreme Court ruling, Alabama needs a statewide policy that gives finality to gambling’s place in the state. We don’t have that today. Instead, we have chaos.