A judge ruled the attorney general’s office either shut down and confiscate machines from all other bingo casinos within 45 days or return cash and gaming machines seized in a raid at the VictoryLand casino. The ruling means Macon County may once again have electronic bingo games and the nation’s largest bingo casino and the region’s biggest economic engine can reopen.
Milton McGregor, the casino’s owner has fought long and hard to have his casino reopened ever since a 2013 state raid that took place at VictoryLand, shutting down the electronic bingo facility and seizing just over 1,600 gaming machines and about $260,000 in cash. 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 for prosecution while other similar businesses remained open in the state. McGregor said of the third grand opening, “I assure you of this, Victoryland will be bigger and better than we were before,” according to WFSA Channel 12 News.
McGregor said that just this week he’s received over 3,500 job applications, and is in the process of leasing electronic bingo machines from vendors for the third grand opening which could happen within weeks.
For years McGregor has maintained that the AG’s office was wrong in its treatment of VictoryLand, and Judge Shashy’s order criticizing the office for singling out the Macon County facility further confirmed that belief. McGregor said, “We are a living example of how a business can be severely mistreated by government politicians that are more interested in politicians than they are the law. There’s no question now, electronic bingo is here to stay,” McGregor said. “The only question is, is everyone entitled to have it going to be treated fairly?”
While the ruling stops short of declaring electronic bingo machines legal, it does provide important clarification of the voter’s intent and VictoryLand’s primary defense that they were aware that their vote on the amendment would make electronic bingo legal.
Shashy’s order is strongly disputed by the AG’s office who is appealing the order to the Alabama Supreme Court. A decision is not expected until some time in 2016. The high court has historically ruled against electronic bingo casino operators maintaining that county amendments legalizing bingo refer to the traditional game. It remains to be seen if the amendment which allows for charitable bingo in Macon County passes the test.