VictoryLand Reopens-Alabama Bingo Saga Continues

In Alabama the electronic bingo saga continues. VictoryLand, the casino that has been the victim of several raids has reopened once again. In February the casino was raided once again by minions of Alabama attorney general Luther Strange. Strange has engaged in a vendetta against VictoryLand and during the most recent raid officials seized over 1,000 electronic bingo machines and over $200,000 in cash. Strange even sued the Poarch band of Creek Indians saying their casinos are a ‘public nuisance.’ The move was unexpected since the tribe has donated in excess of $100,000 to Strange’s political campaigns.

VictoryLand announced that on Friday March 15th the casino will reopen and will offer betting on simulcast horse and dog racing. VictoryLand’s lawyers are seeking the return of the electronic bingo machines which were specially designed to conform to Alabama’s definition of bingo. When the casino opened in December several gaming experts were on hand to demonstrate to media representatives how the bingo machines followed the state’s definition of bingo. K.C. Economic Development, a business associated with VictoryLand, filed a claim in Macon Circuit Court and argued that attorney general Strange had no right to seize the machines and cash. VictoryLand lawyer Joe Espy wrote “The property at issue in this case was being used in a legal manner consistent with Amendment 744 of the Alabama Constitution of 1901 and the Macon County bingo regulations.”

The state of Alabama is seeking forfeiture of the machines and cash. Strange’s office claims the bingo machines are illegal slot machines even though gaming experts say otherwise. Many see the move as more political posturing by Strange and a poll showed that 78% of Alabama voters disapprove of the raids. After the February raid 600 people lost their jobs in an area of the state with high unemployment and few job opportunities. In a separate filing K.C. Economic Development also opposed efforts by Strange’s office to get the Macon County judge who refused to sign a search warrant for VictoryLand removed from the case.

Initially Macon County Circuit Judge Tom Young refused to sign the search warrant for the raid but was finally forced to sign by the Alabama Supreme Court. In a handwritten note attached to the search warrant Young said he was signing with “the greatest judicial reluctance.” VictoryLand lawyer Espy wrote “Indeed, all the grounds for recusal at their core demonstrate that the state is seeking to oust a very conscientious judge who takes very seriously his duties to follow the law.” The attorney general’s office says Young should recuse himself because he is ‘prejudiced’ against the state.

In a statement VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor said “We are happy to reopen and put some of our employees back to work.” McGregor said many employees “lost their jobs due to the illegal forced closing on Feb. 19th by the Alabama Attorney General.” In a not so veiled threat Strange said VictoryLand was operating in “open defiance” of the law. Many are wondering if Strange will waste taxpayer dollars and resources in another raid.