The beginning of this week was not pleasant for four casinos in Greene County, Alabama, as the attorney general’s office seized large number of gambling machines and cash money.
Luther Strange, Alabama Attorney General, commented that agents from his office worked together with State Troopers from the Alabama Department of Public Safety in order to complete the four search warrants and investigate reports of illegal gambling operations there.
He commented that the casinos in question were working in “open defiance” with US gambling laws: “From my first day in office, I have worked to ensure that illegal gambling laws are enforced consistently across the state.”
Gambling machines were taken from Greene Charity Bingo in Eutaw and Frontier Bingo and River’s Edge Bingo Hall in Knoxville. The officers also visited Greenetrack Bingo, but didn’t find any illegal machines there.
Casino operators’ opinion
These actions represent that devotion of the state to fight illegal gambling. According to the attorney general’s office, machines that look like slots are illegal and don’t fall within the description of the allowed charities, which can operate bingo games in some locations in the state of Alabama.
Over 1,000 gambling machines and money were confiscated from four casinos in Greene County, Alabama
• From Greene Charity Bingo in Eutaw
• Frontier Bingo in Knoxville
• River’s Edge Bingo Hall in Knoxville
In their defense, casino operators claimed that these machines are for bingo games and the spinning displays, which make the games similar to slot machines, are just for fun.
Luther Winn, Greenetrack Bingo’s president and CEO, commented: “Today marks yet another sad chapter in a long history of partisan harassment of our operations. The attempts by the Alabama attorney general to go after Greenetrack for legitimate gaming compelled us to suspend an aspect of our gaming in an abundance of caution.”
Winn insisted that the games, which his bingo offered and terminated voluntary before the raids, and made it into the gambling news, were absolutely legal.
He added: “Using police powers to pursue a partisan political agenda is an abuse of power. After years of persecution and discrimination this has become an emotional issue for our supporters in Alabama.”
Illegal machines’ stories
The gambling machines seized from the three casinos along with the cash money are held as evidence and will be the reason for future penalties, for their owners.
Gov. Robert Bentley expressed his opinion that the attorney general’s office probably had to go through a lot of trouble before being able to acquire the search warrants. He said: “There was a court order for a legitimate search warrant issued by the local judges in that county, but mandated by the Supreme Court.”
Back in 2013 the attorney general’s office again went to the Alabama Supreme Court in order to get a search warrant for VictoryLand in Macon County. This was necessary, as Macon County Circuit Judge Tom Young initially refused to issue the warrant and the Alabama Supreme Court ordered him to do so.
During the raid 1,600 gaming machines and more than $223,000 were taken from VictoryLand, which was the largest non-Indian casino in the state, but is currently quiet.
Gov. Bentley explained that his office provided assistance in the operation, but this was the only involvement: “I knew it was going to take place. We provide the law enforcement just to keep the peace and make sure things are done correctly. But I am not managing nor do I wish to manage gambling in this state.”