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Gambling magnate McGregor to appeal conspiracy lawsuit comment (0)

June 14, 2012

By Sondra Washington

Alabama gambling magnate Milton McGregor has spent much of this past year in federal courtrooms trying to stay out of prison and fighting to hold on to his riches, and his legal calendar is not clear just yet. While he managed to avoid jail time for a legislative vote-buying scheme, his lawyers promised to appeal a recent civil lawsuit verdict requiring McGregor and his VictoryLand casino to pay $64 million to a Macon County business and several affiliated charities for reportedly conspiring to maintain a monopoly on the county’s so-called “electronic bingo” gambling business.

According to The Birmingham News, “the lawsuit was filed in 2006 in Montgomery federal court by a business consortium called Lucky Palace that wanted to set up a rival operation and the 15 charities that had contracted with it to operate ‘bingo’ in the county. The county’s ‘bingo’ regulations were issued and amended twice to ensure that no rival could get into the ‘bingo’ business, according to the lawsuit.”

While this amount of award money may seem like an important ruling against the corrupt business practices many gambling opponents have repeatedly said are associated with gambling, McGregor and his attorneys could still use the civil court process to avoid major repercussions from the case, according to Birmingham attorney Eric Johnston.

“Since many parties in civil cases settle out of court, he (McGregor) may settle that case for some undisclosed amount,” Johnston said. “They may have some real error (in the trial) that they might use to get the case reversed and if that is true they will try to appeal. … Often what happens is you appeal and the purpose of the appeal is to have a way to negotiate a significant reduction of the judgment. They (lawyers) are sometimes interested in getting it reviewed only if the plaintiff does not want to settle.”

Aside from this case, Johnston said, “The real question now is will there be a competing casino in Macon County, because the jury has ruled that McGregor kept this other group from coming in. Now that they were found guilty, does that mean that [Lucky Palace] is going to be able to go in and set up something?”

Questions also remain about the future of VictoryLand. Although the casino’s business leaders said they planned to reopen the Shorter casino after McGregor was acquitted in the federal legislative corruption trial and after Alabama lawmakers failed to pass a bill making violations of the state’s anti-gambling laws more severe, VictoryLand was not open at press time.

Johnston said he has heard rumors that subpoenas related to gambling have been issued but it is unknown who issued the subpoenas and for what purpose.

“We are kind of in a stalemate right now,” he added. “What is going to happen next is going to be interesting. We don’t know who will make the next move and what it might be between the gamblers on one side and the state of Alabama on the other. I don’t think either side knows what is going to happen next.”

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