Alabama authorities shut down casinos over illegal bingo

VictoryLand to close over illegal bingo games
VictoryLand to close over illegal bingo games
VictoryLand is one of three Alabama casinos facing court-ordered closure due to illegal electronic bingo games.

The Alabama Supreme Court has officially forced three Alabama casinos to close down after they were found to be operating illegal electronic bingo gaming machines.

The three casinos in question were VictoryLand Casino, Southern Star Entertainment, and White Hall Entertainment. The Supreme Court made a unanimous decision on Monday, September 10, that officially bans these casinos from operating further.

The official ruling stipulated a deadline of 30 days for the Lowndes County and Macon County casinos to cease operating the electronic bingo games in question.

The case was spearheaded by State Attorney General Steve Marshall, who explained the harmful effects illegal gambling operations have on the security and welfare of state residents. He was satisfied with the Supreme Court’s decision to officially halt the three casinos’ operations.

“The Alabama Supreme Court’s opinion makes clear what my office has maintained from the start: these gambling enterprises are not only patently illegal under Alabama law, but also a menace to public health, morals, safety, and welfare,” he said.

“Today’s decision will forbid the Southern Star, White Hall, and VictoryLand casinos from offering their slot-machine gambling to the public.”

The official verdict came after the counties had previously rejected proposals from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office for injunctive relief against the three casinos. As a result, in 2017, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the respective facilities and several law enforcement agents. The suit had been issued based on claims of incompetent actions of the local law enforcement and their failure to prosecute.

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In September 2016, Governor Kay Ivey, the State Attorney General, and other individuals had actively communicated with the Lowndes County Sheriff, requesting that the sheriff investigate the two casinos in Lowndes County – Southern Star Entertainment and White Hall Entertainment.

According to reports from the court, the sheriff had relayed a lack of public complaint on the casino defendants and explained that due to a lack of manpower and funds as well as a conflict of interest, the investigation on Lowndes County was unaccomplished.

At the time, the court was already hoping to finally resolve the issue in 2016 as it had ruled previously that electronic bingo gaming activities were not authorized under local laws, which allowed the operations and practice of normal charity bingo.

In more recent times, the state has won every lawsuit issued against illegal gambling activities in Alabama. Five casinos have now been ordered to halt all gambling operations with their gaming licenses revoked.

In 2017, the Attorney General’s Office was victorious in a legal battle with Morgan County’s River City casino. Subsequently, in 2018, another case was won by the state against Houston County’s Centre Stage casino.

Alabama has been actively and aggressively fending off illegal gaming since the regular state-authorized bingo games evolved into unlawful slot machines in multiple casinos. To safeguard the welfare of its residents, the Attorney General’s Office has been keeping track of casinos operating illegal bingo operations.

Recently, the AG’s Office gained another victory in July, against non-profit bingo operator Greenetrack. The result of the success has brought fines of up to $76 million in unpaid taxes.

Adding to his previous comments, Marshall explained his five-year journey of fighting against multiple illegal casinos across the state.

He said: “In the five years since I filed lawsuits to cease illegal gambling in five counties across the state. I have prevailed in court against one deep-pocketed gambling enterprise after another: in 2017, against the River City Casino in Morgan County; in 2018, against the Center Stage casino in Houston County; and, today, against the Southern Star and White Hall casinos in Lowndes County and the VictoryLand casino in Macon County.”

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