MONTGOMERY, AL -- Alabama's Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling on Aug. 11, denying taskforce commander John Tyson Jr. the opportunity to stage an immediate raid on the VictoryLand resort (Shorter, in Macon County), Alabama's last remaining major electronic bingo operator.
Justices said there was no current or ongoing emergency that justified immediate emergency action by the taskforce.
A local Macon County judge had ruled last March that the state government had no jurisdiction over VictoryLand and ordered the taskforce to stay away. A seemingly pro-taskforce ruling came down from the Supreme Court on Friday, Aug. 6, prompting VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor to close the site on Monday, Aug. 9, to ward off a possible raid. Following the high court's reprieve on Aug. 11, McGregor reopened the site's dog track on Aug. 12, but left the electronic bingo hall shuttered for now, saying he would reevaluate a possible opening on a daily basis.
Electronic bingo has been the subject of a noisy two-year political and legal battle in Alabama, with outgoing Gov. Bob Riley ordering raids on bingo establishments and prosecutions of operators of machines deemed illegal gambling devices.
In related news, charges of reckless endangerment against Greenetrack chief executive Luther "Nate" Winn, state Sen. Bobby Singleton and several Greene County commissioners were thrown out of court by a district judge. They had been accused of interfering with a raid by State Police on a bingo operation back in July. Winn was in tears over his victory and the courtroom erupted in applause. Many citizens in the gallery wore T-shirts with the slogan "Jobs and Justice."