published Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Alabama gambling trial judge to jurors: keep talking

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The federal judge in Alabama's gambling corruption trial on Tuesday instructed jurors to keeping deliberating after they told him they had decided on some of the counts but were deadlocked on others.

Prosecutors and the attorney for accused casino owner Milton McGregor urged the judge to tell them to keep talking and he agree.

Jurors for the past five days have debated the case of nine people accused of buying and selling votes for pro-gambling legislation. Charged include McGregor and four former or current state lawmakers. The jury will return on Wednesday morning to keep talking.

Jurors sent a note to U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson saying they were deadlocked on some of the counts.

The federal investigation grew out of three Republican legislators telling the FBI that they were offered campaign contributions if they would support legislation designed to keep electronic bingo games operating in Alabama.

The three used recording devices to tape phone calls and meetings, and the FBI wiretapped phones in a yearlong probe that coincided with former Gov. Bob Riley creating a gambling task force to shut down privately operated casinos.

Riley contended electronic bingo machines, featuring flashing lights and sound effects, were illegal slot machines, while proponents portrayed them as a high-tech version of paper bingo, which is legal in some Alabama counties.

Riley's task force seized machines and won court battles that resulted in the closure of all privately operated electronic bingo casinos.

Casino owners and some lawmakers were seeking a constitutional amendment to protect their profitable electronic games.

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