Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange recently filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court to see the return of electronic bingo games to the VictoryLand Casino. Back in 2013, the property saw their gaming machines seized as well as cash and has been out of operation since that time.
William Shashy, a circuit judge, ruled against the state of Alabama back in October, by finding the machines legal based on a constitutional amendment from 2003 by voters in Macon County. In the ruling, Shashy found that the state had unequally enforced the law as the same gaming machines were being used in Greene and Lowndes counties.
The judge ruled that the state had to return the gaming machines and cash unless they decided to take legal action in the other counties within a 45 day time frame. Last week, a stay was issued by the Supreme Court, which put the ruling by Shashy on hold while the appeal by the state is pending.
The state has filed a brief of 74 pages on the 19th of this month and maintains the machines are illegal based on slot machine gaming. During the raid back in 2013, over 1,600 machines were taken from VictoryLand as well as $263,000 in cash.
The property would like to reopen by Christmas of this year and has plans to do so. According to Joe Espy, the attorney for the property, the stay by the Supreme Court will not change their plans for reopening. According to the attorney, the casino has been working to obtain new gaming machines instead of waiting for the return of the seized games, which reportedly were damaged during the raid.
Two weeks ago, Governor Robert Bentley issued an executive order which stated that it is the county sheriffs and district attorneys are the ones who are primarily responsible for enforcing gambling laws and not the office of the attorney general. Strange responded by stating that the governor’s order was consistent with a memo sent out earlier by the AG encouraging the local law enforcement and district attorneys to enforce the state gambling laws.
Shashy made his decision in the cash after four days of testimony was heard and undercover videos of the games being played at the property was reviewed. However the state is arguing that the judge had erred in three different ways. The state says in regards to ruling that the state was not enforcing the law equally, that the amendment of Macon County was different from the additional bingo amendments that allowed electronic bingo and that he failed to apply the six-point test to whether the gaming was bingo.
Shashy had concluded that the state was ‘cherry-picking’ their enforcement and evidence was found that a total of six casinos spread out in Greene and Lowndes Counties were operating the electronic bingo games in July. The state appeal covers the ‘cherry-picking’ debate, saying that the actions were based on the gambling operations having reopened after the state had decided to close them and filed a forfeiture action similar to the one against VictoryLand.