MONTGOMERY (TAB) — Using firm language, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled against VictoryLand’s casino forfeiture case March 31. The decision allows the state to destroy more than 1,200 electronic bingo machines it confiscated from the casino and keep more than $200,000 in cash seized during the 2013 raid.
“(Thursday’s) decision is the latest, and hopefully the last, chapter in the more than six years’ worth of attempts to defy the Alabama Constitution’s ban on ‘lotteries,’” the Court stated in its opinion. “It is the latest, and hopefully the last, chapter in the ongoing saga of attempts to defy the clear and repeated holdings of this Court beginning in 2009 that electronic machines like those at issue here are not the ‘bingo’ referenced in local bingo amendments.
“All that is left is for the law of this State to be enforced.”
Attorney General Luther Strange said of the ruling, “[It] is abundantly clear that electronic bingo is illegal and repeated court challenges to the contrary will not change that fact. I cannot say it any better than the Court itself.”
Eric Johnston, a Birmingham lawyer who represents the Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizen’s Action Program, said he believes the Court’s ruling also has implications that reach further than bingo and possibly into statewide lottery and fantasy football debates.
“I have never seen the Alabama Supreme Court so direct and so detailed in what they were saying on any subject. They’ve made it real clear about what gambling is.”
There is a bill currently progressing through the legislature that would clarify that voters in Macon and Greene counties intended to vote for electronic bingo when they each passed bingo amendments in 2003, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor held a news conference this morning and said the casino would reopen early this summer despite the Supreme Court ruling. He also said VictoryLand will work closely with the sheriff and district attorney to ensure bingo games played at the casino are legal, according to al.com.