Greene County raids close last nontribal casinos in statecomment (0)
April 10, 2014
Greene County must follow the same rules related to the game of bingo as all other counties do, according to an April 1 ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court.
Issuing decisions from six separate cases in one order, the court dealt with two cases from 2011 and four from the recent March 31 raid when state law enforcement agents seized more than 1,000 gambling machines and an undisclosed amount of cash from four casinos.
The casinos raided were Greenetrack and Greene Charity Bingo in Eutaw and Frontier Bingo and River’s Edge in Knoxville.
The seized gambling machines and money will be held as evidence and will be subject to forfeiture procedures in the Circuit Court of Greene County, according to a press release from Attorney General Luther Strange’s office.
“These casinos were operating in open defiance of the rule of law, and we have been left with no alternative but to treat this as we would any other law enforcement matter,” Strange said.
Two of the casinos, Greenetrack and Frontier Bingo, also were raided by state law enforcement agents in 2011, but Judge Houston Brown had overturned the seizure and ordered the state to return the machines.
In the April 1 ruling, the state Supreme Court vacated and nullified Brown’s orders. The court held that Brown’s ruling was “based on an erroneous understanding of the judge’s role in the warrant process. ... If a mistaken understanding of law is used as a framework to assess the facts presented by the witness, the mistake is the court’s, not the witness’s.”
The Greene County casinos were the only nontribal, large-scale electronic gambling operations still doing business in the state until the March 31 raid. Now all but the three casinos owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Atmore, Wetumpka and Tallapoosa are closed in the state.
Milton McGregor’s VictoryLand in Macon County remains shut down after it was raided by state troopers in February 2013. Houston County’s facility operates only paper bingo now since its machines were ruled illegal in 2013, and the casino in White Hall (Lowndes County) was shut down in 2012. The machines at McGregor’s Birmingham Race Course lasted only a few days before they were ruled illegal in 2005.
Strange has challenged the legality of the Poarch operations as well. A case is currently pending in federal court.