Circuit Judge Williams Shashy said he wants to see what transpires in the Alabama Legislature as well as in other pending cases and appeals before deciding whether to order the return of 1,600 electronic bingo machines and possibly about a quarter million dollars in cash seized from VictoryLand in Shorter in 2013.
The judge earlier ruled that the state could not effect forfeiture of the VictoryLand assets as their seizure was not proper under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Two other bingo centers are in operation in Greene County and another in Houston County. The judge’s ruling indicates that the closure of VictoryLand was unfair in light of other gaming venues’ continued operation in the state.
In his earlier ruling, which the state Attorney General’s office has appealed to Alabama’s Supreme Court, Sashy stated, “Allowing unequal treatment places the court in an untenable position. The court cannot condone or perpetuate unequal treatment.”
After Tuesday’s hearing, which could have resulted in the facility re-opening nearly immediately, VictoryLand and Quincy’s 777 Casino owner, Milton McGregor is quoted in local media as saying he would reopen the shuttered bingo center, once the largest in the nation, as soon as he is able to find a vendor. Previous reports have indicated that many of the seized machines may have been damaged in their removal. Attorney for the gaming facility, Joe Espy is cited in Alabama media Tuesday as saying that his office has seen machines bearing the VictoryLand stamp in tribal casinos.
If Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh has his way in a special session of the Alabama Legislature, any point over whether the machines are legal or illegal would become moot. Marsh has introduced a bill to authorize a state lottery as well as allow the state’s four dog tracks including VictoryLand, to offer electronic gaming machines, poker, and Las Vegas style table games like blackjack, craps and roulette.