By Faye Gaston
The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that judges ruling on the state's lawsuits against the gambling entities in Macon and Lowndes counties were in error when they dismissed the state's cases. This concerns VictoryLand in Macon County and White Hall Entertainment and Southern Entertainment in Lowndes County. The Supreme Court ruled that the courts must proceed with the 2017 lawsuits filed by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.
The lawsuit contends that electronic bingo games at VictoryLand and Lowndes County are slot machines and illegal in Alabama. The White Hall City Council is also a defendant in the lawsuit.
Marshall asked the courts to block the machines' use and declare them unlawful.
The state's position is that the machines that look and operate like slot machines are, in fact, slot machines and don't meet the legal definition of bingo.
Previous Alabama Supreme Court rulings have supported this position.
Marshall said, "For too long, these individuals, businesses, and even elected officials have flagrantly violated Alabama's laws. The ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court is an important victory for the rule of law.
"We will now move forward to uphold the state's laws and provide justice for the people of Alabama."
This ruling says the state is entitled to a hearing to prove its case. VictoryLand Attorney Joe Espy said, "It has no effect on the current operations of VictoryLand."
There will be no immediate changes at VictoryLand. It will remain open during these court proceedings.
Supporters of these gambling casinos say the voters in these two counties voted to allow electronic bingo.
They contend that the state is engaged in selective enforcement because it did not include the Poarch Creek Indians' casinos in the lawsuit.
In 2013, former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange sued the Poarch Creek Indians' casinos, claiming they were a public nuisance and were operating illegal slot machines.
A federal judge dismissed the case, stating that the Poarch Creeks were entitled to tribal sovereign immunity on the issues.
In 2015, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians runs these casinos in Wetumpka, Montgomery, and Atmore.