Robert Bentley devolves anti-gambling authority to local officials

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Gov. Robert Bentley signed an executive order Thursday placing responsibility for anti-gambling laws on local county governments, revoking that authority from the state attorney general.

The new order – Executive Order 13 – reverses an earlier order which disbanded the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling and placed the attorney general in charge of gaming.

“Executive Order 13 clarifies that local law enforcement officers should determine the legality of the Constitutional laws as those laws relate to their own counties. Recent rulings have raised concern with the unequal enforcement of Alabama’s criminal laws, including gambling laws,” said Bentley announcing to move.

“By signing Executive Order 13, we are clarifying exactly where the responsibility for enforcing laws lies and that is with the local elected officials,” he said.

The move was also due in part to the cost of state-level enforcement, amid major budget cuts passed by the Legislature and enacted by Bentley, beleaguered of late by a public divorce and tension with Montgomery lawmakers.

Alabama has spent in excess of an estimated $9 million and “expended immense resources for several years” for the enforcement of Alabama’s anti-gambling laws, the governor’s office said. The order says additional state spending on enforcing the anti-gambling laws should be limited.

Bentley’s new decision reverses his first-ever executive proclamation, Executive Order 1, issued in January 2011, the same month he took office.

Executive Order 13 formalizes a recommendation he made to Attorney General Luther Strange earlier this year that all authority over investigation and implementation of the state’s anti-gambling provisions devolve to the local leve.

Read the full executive order here.

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