Gambling bill passes

Published 8:33 pm Thursday, April 5, 2012

Attorney General Luther Strange announced Thursday that the Judiciary Committee of the Alabama House of Representatives has approved House Bill 414, legislation advocated by the Attorney General to fight illegal gambling.

“I am pleased that the House Judiciary Committee has taken action on our recommendations to make Alabama’s gambling laws stronger and more effective,” said Attorney General Strange. “I want to thank Representatives Allen Farley and Paul DeMarco for their leadership in moving this bill forward, and I urge members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass this bill as soon as possible. This is my top legislative priority.”

Under current law, the maximum penalty for any illegal gambling enterprise is a misdemeanor, regardless of how many millions of dollars are being made from the illegal activity.  The legislation advocated by Attorney General Strange makes the following improvements to the law:

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* The maximum penalties for the crimes of promoting unlawful gambling and the crime of conspiracy to promote unlawful gambling  will be increased from class A misdemeanors to class C felonies.  This would deter large-scale illegal gambling enterprises and also restore the punishment ranges to their original form when the Legislature first passed these statutes in 1977.

* The maximum penalty for the crime of possessing 10 or more slot machines will be increased from a class A misdemeanor to a class C felony.

* Law enforcement will also have the authority to seize and condemn real property that is being used for purposes of illegal gambling involving the use of 10 or more slot machines.  After a trial in circuit court, the property would be sold and proceeds would go to the law enforcement agencies that seized the property.