Alabama Prohibition against any Lottery

Alabama is one of several states that don't legally allow any lottery including bingo. Gambling is so historically connected to the earlier days in North America that the Thirteen Colonies that evolved into the USA even used gambling to build and create real estate listings. The allowance of bingo allows many ordinances to include slot machines. Please find the Executive written in 2008 by Governor Bob Riley order below that justifies the Prohibition of any Lottery in the state of Alabama:


WHEREAS, Article IV, Section 65 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 provides: “The legislature shall have no power to authorize lotteries or gift enterprises for any purposes, and shall pass laws to prohibit the sale in this state of lottery or gift enterprise tickets, or tickets in any scheme in the nature of a lottery . . . ;” and

WHEREAS, in 2004 the Supreme Court of Alabama reaffirmed that Section 65 “not only prohibits lotteries, but it also prohibits any ‘gift enterprise’ or ‘scheme in the nature of a lottery,’” explaining:

“In this State, therefore, the public policy is emphatically declared against lotteries, or any scheme in the nature of a lottery, both by Constitution and by statutes.” . . . The very purpose of this broad declaration was to put a ban on any effort at evasion or subterfuge. . . . “The courts have shown a general disposition to bring within the term ’lottery’ every species of gaming, involving a disposition of prizes by lot or chance, . . . which comes within the mischief to be remedied -- regarding always the substance and not the semblance of things, so as to prevent evasions of the law . . . .”

State ex rel. Tyson v. Ted’s Game Enterprises, 893 So. 2d 376, 380 (Ala. 2004), quoting Opinion of the Justices No. 373, 795 So. 2d 630, 640 (Ala. 2001) (emphasis added) (internal citations omitted); and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of Alabama has adopted the “American Rule” concerning the role of chance in defining a lottery and held, accordingly, that Section 65 “means what it says, and prohibits the Legislature from authorizing ‘lotteries or gift enterprises’ that involve games or devices in which chance predominates the outcome of the game, even if ‘some skill’ is involved,” Ted’s Game Enterprises, 893 So. 2d at 380; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of Alabama has held that bingo is a form of lottery and is therefore illegal in Alabama, except where expressly authorized by a constitutional amendment, See City of Piedmont v. Evans, 642 So. 2d 435, 436-37 (Ala. 1994); and the conduct of bingo, within specified parameters, is authorized in 16 counties and two municipalities by local constitutional amendments, none of which, however, defines “bingo;” and

WHEREAS, in 1997, in a unanimous opinion authored by now-Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that where bingo is authorized but not otherwise defined by local constitutional amendment, “bingo” means nothing other than “the ordinary game of bingo;” the Court upheld the appellant’s conviction and 12-month prison sentence for promoting gambling and possession of a gambling device where the appellant had contended that the gambling activity he operated was “bingo” within the meaning of the local constitutional amendment and local ordinance; and the Court, acknowledging “this state’s strong public policy against lotteries as expressed in § 65 of the Alabama Constitution,” declared that

bingo is a “narrow exception to the prohibition of lotteries in the Alabama Constitution” and, accordingly, held that “no expression in [an] ordinance [governing the operation of bingo] can be construed to include anything other than the ordinary game of bingo,” lest the ordinance be “inconsistent with the Constitution of Alabama,” See Foster v. State, 705 So. 2d 534, 537-538 (Ala. Crim. App. 1997) (emphasis added); and

WHEREAS, the holding of the Foster case, never having been overturned by the Alabama Supreme Court or annulled by constitutional amendment, has stood as controlling judicial precedent as to the scope and meaning of “bingo” for over ten years; and

WHEREAS, it is common knowledge that, notwithstanding the clear holding of Foster, there is occurring at sites across this State, under the name of “bingo,” gambling activity which no reasonable observer could assert in good faith to be “the ordinary game of bingo,” particularly slot-machine style gambling in which an electronic device or system automatically processes an instant game of virtual “bingo” upon activation and a wager by the human player, the outcome of which is based predominantly on chance rather than on any meaningful human interaction or skill; and

WHEREAS, regardless of the “game” in question, the possession of slot machines and gambling devices is illegal in all 67 counties in Alabama pursuant to Section 13A-12-27, Code of Alabama 1975, which provides: “A person commits the crime of possession of a gambling device if with knowledge of the character thereof he manufactures, sells, transports, places or possesses, or conducts or negotiates any transaction affecting or designed to affect ownership, custody or use of: (1) A slot machine; or (2) Any other gambling device, with the intention that it be used in the advancement of unlawful gambling activity;” and

WHEREAS, none of the local constitutional amendments relating to bingo exempts bingo operators from the State’s criminal laws against slot machines and other gambling devices; and

WHEREAS, Section 13A-12-22, Code of Alabama 1975, provides: “A person commits the crime of promoting gambling if he knowingly advances or profits from unlawful gambling activity otherwise than as a player;” and

WHEREAS, promoting gambling and possession of a gambling device are Class A misdemeanors, each instance being punishable by imprisonment, or a fine, or both; and

WHEREAS, a number of other gambling related offenses are set out in Title 13A, Chapter 12, Sections 20 through 92 of the Code of Alabama 1975; and

WHEREAS, in 2006, the Supreme Court of Alabama ruled that machines which “look like, sound like, and attract the same class of customers as conventional slot machines, and,

when integrated with the servers, serve essentially the same function as [] slot machines,” are illegal slot machines and further reaffirmed that “Alabama’s gambling law . . . is not so easily evaded. It is ’the policy of the constitution and laws of Alabama [to prohibit] the vicious system of lottery schemes and the evil practice of gaming, in all their protean shapes,’" Barber v. Jefferson County Racing Association, Inc., 960 So. 2d 599, 614 (Ala. 2006) (emphasis added) (citations omitted); and

WHEREAS, notwithstanding the Alabama Supreme Court’s clear, emphatic, and repeated remonstrations against every artful attempt to circumvent Alabama’s anti-gambling laws, there is an obvious lack of uniformity in the enforcement of these laws from county to county—a state of affairs which has produced serious confusion about which activities are lawful and which are not, and which is being exploited by gambling’s promoters to expand and entrench illegal gambling activity in Alabama;

NOW THEREFORE, I, Bob Riley, Governor of the State of Alabama, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of Alabama, and for other good and valid reasons, which relate thereto, do hereby establish the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling for the purpose of promoting and supporting uniform statewide enforcement of Alabama’s anti-gambling laws and to carry out the Alabama Constitution’s strong public policy against lottery schemes and illegal gambling.

BE IT FURTHER ORDERED, that the Task Force shall be composed of the Director of the Department of Public Safety and such agents and investigators as he or she shall designate, the Administrator of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and such agents and investigators as he or she shall designate, and a supernumerary district attorney, who shall be appointed by the Governor as a Special Prosecutor and who shall serve as the Task Force Commander.

BE IT FURTHER ORDERED, that the Task Force shall serve as a resource for local prosecutors and law enforcement officials who request assistance in the investigation and prosecution of gambling-related crimes. The Task Force may provide technical assistance, investigative support, law enforcement personnel, and any other assistance requested by local authorities reasonably necessary to enforce Alabama’s anti-gambling laws.

BE IT FURTHER ORDERED, that the Special Prosecutor, pursuant to Section 12-17-216, Code of Alabama 1975, shall have statewide jurisdiction and is hereby authorized, with the support of the Task Force, to conduct investigations, attend any regular, adjourned or special session of any circuit court in any of the judicial circuits of Alabama for the investigation of or the prosecution of any criminal case or the prosecution or defense of any case related to gambling activity in the State of Alabama.

BE IT FURTHER ORDERED, that this Executive Order shall become effective immediately upon the Governor’s signature and shall remain in effect until amended or modified by the Governor.

DONE AND ORDERED, this _______ day of December, 2008.


Bob Riley




Beth Chapman

Secretary of State"