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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

‘Bingo’ may be back after ‘not guilty’ verdictscomment (0)

March 15, 2012

By Sondra Washington


If Alabama gambling magnate Milton McGregor keeps his promise, then it won’t be long before VictoryLand in Shorter reopens its casino. But Attorney General Luther Strange is still warning him and other would-be casino operators that facilities using “so-called ‘electronic bingo’” machines will face “vigilant” law enforcement activity.

McGregor’s announcement was issued soon after he and five other defendants were acquitted of all charges Feb. 7 in the state’s federal gambling corruption retrial.

Although celebratory images of McGregor and the other defendants, Sen. Harri Anne Smith, I-Slocomb; former Sen. Jim Preuitt, R-Talladega; former Sen. Larry Means, D-Attalla; lobbyist Tom Coker; and Country Crossing spokesman Jay Walker, were seen on several news stations, many believe justice was not served.

“I think we have the best legal system in the world but it’s not perfect,” said Eric Johnston, president of Southeast Law Institute. “I think the system was used and a lot of people who were guilty got away with it.”

Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, who helped investigators with the case, said, “I saw corruption and I stood against it. What happens after that is up to other people.”

As far as future slot machine-style gambling facilities are concerned, Strange has “pledged [he] will not allow the state ... to spiral back into the gambling problems of the past.”

“This is not about whether I believe gambling is good or bad,” he said. “This is about the rule of law. ... When the Alabama Supreme Court makes a ruling, it is my ... duty to uphold [it]. The ... Supreme Court has been crystal clear about what is legal ... when it comes to so-called ‘electronic bingo.’ … The only form of bingo authorized ... to the Alabama Constitution is the traditional game commonly known as bingo.”

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