After having been closed for three years, the VictoryLand casino in Macon County will once again welcome patrons today, according to a joint announcement by owner Milton McGregor and Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford last month.
At that time McGregor said that the casino would have a soft opening on September 13 and that he expected to staff the Shorter, Alabama facility with some 200 employees for the opening. He said that would be expanded in the coming months, and upon opening the facility would have 500 electronic bingo machines. In a press release on August 13, Mayor Ford said that Luther Curry, the chairman of the Macon County Racing Commission informed him of the decision by the commission to allow the casino to reopen. At that time, Mayor Ford said that VictoryLand would begin welcoming patrons again on September 6.
The Alabama casino has been closed since 2013 when it was shut down by the state’s attorney general’s office and $263,000 in cash and 1,615 machines were seized. The closure devastated Macon County, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. In October last year, Alabama Circuit Judge William Shashy ruled that voters in Macon County who approved Amendment 744 in 2003 intended that electronic bingo be included in the legalization of all forms of bingo and that VictoryLand casino had been treated unfairly and singled out by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office while other similar businesses remained open in the state. Following that, in November, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed an executive order saying that gambling enforcement should be handled by district attorneys and local sheriffs, removing the power to police gambling from the AG’s office. Since then a handful of appeals and planned reopening dates have come and gone.
The Alabama Supreme Court overturned Judge Shashy’s decision and ruled in March, that in the VictoryLand forfeiture case, determining the intent of voters and legislators in their approval of the amendment was essentially impossible, and that ads using the phrase “casino-style gaming” was “less helpful in determining the collective will of thousands of voters,” according to the Montgomery Advertiser. Sheriffs in both counties, however, have stated in no uncertain terms that they believe the types of games being played at casinos in their respective counties are included in the constitutional amendments the citizens passed.
While it has been indicated by McGregor that he may take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, the state’s justices wrote that their decision in March was “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,’” and that “all that is left is for the law of this state to be enforced.”
Yasamie August, spokeswoman for Governor Bentley, said Monday that the November order remained in effect and declined to comment on the expected reopening, according to the news agency.