Bingo illegal in Linden

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2003

The Linden City Council has granted an illegal license for a local business to hold bingo games.

Woody Dinning Jr., attorney for the Linden City Council, said Tuesday that his research indicates the city illegally granted Franceena’s Italian Restaurant a license to play bingo games.

In Alabama, there are only four counties that allow for the playing of bingo: Montgomery, Madison, Jefferson and Mobile.

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Attorneys General opinions about bingo in Alabama are fairly clear. Former Attorney General Charles Graddick and current Attorney General Bill Pryor have both outlined the law concerning bingo games in Alabama counties.

That clearly is not the case for Marengo County, and no amendments to the state constitution have been proposed. As part of the Alabama Constitution of 1901, counties lack the "home rule" authority to pass legislation that would allow things like bingo. Rather, an amendment has to appear on a statewide ballot and citizens all over the state vote on something that would only affect this county.

At the March 3 Linden council meeting, Mayor Pat Vice brought the motion for a bingo license at the request of Linden business owner Fran Black. According to City Administrator Cheryl Hall, the council passed a $300 yearly license fee for Black and her business. Hall said Black’s Italian restaurant has been open since last summer.

Now that Dinning has decided the Linden council’s granting of a bingo license was illegal, he said he will notify city officials that they have made a bad decision.

Because the council passed the ordinance allowing the game, Dinning said the council will now have to rescind that ordinance.