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NEWS 5 October 2017

Alabama goes to war over illegal gambling

By Robert Simmons
The Alabama Attorney General’s office has announced it has filed lawsuits against five different casinos across the state over their operation of electronic bingo machines.

Civil lawsuits were filed in Greene, Houston, Lowndes, Macon and Morgan counties against the operating casinos, machine manufacturers and vendors, and the governmental authorities responsible for licensing and overseeing electronic bingo operations in those counties.

In a press release, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said: "It is the responsibility of the Attorney General to ensure that Alabama's laws are enforced, including those laws that prohibit illegal gambling."

State law currently prohibits Las Vegas-style Class III gambling, however many casinos in the state operate electronic bingo machines, which are similar in resemblance to slot machines, currently classified under Class III, claiming that they are operated under different principles to their illegal counterparts.

Under US Federal law, electronic bingo machines are classified as Class II gaming devices, however there have been a number of rulings in Alabama’s Supreme Court which have stated that electronic bingo machines should be removed from casino premises as their operation breaches state laws.

Marshall added: "Through multiple rulings in recent years, the Alabama Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that electronic bingo and the use of slot machines are illegal in all Alabama counties. Therefore, we have taken action to hold accountable those who defy the laws of our state. These lawsuits represent a comprehensive legal approach developed by the Attorney General, with the assistance of the Office’s career experts, to finally put a stop to illegal gambling.”

In a statement, Luther Winn Jr., CEO of Greenetrack, a defendant in the Greene County lawsuit said: "While we have not had a chance to review the lawsuit, we will vigorously fight to protect the constitutional amendment that the voters of Greene County ratified which allows these games in Greene County.

"By his own hand, Marshall has now jeopardised the jobs of 115 mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers. These are good-paying jobs with insurance and retirement benefits. Marshall's lawsuit also jeopardises Greene County E-911 and the fire protection for the entire county, both of whom are completely dependent on bingo revenues."

RELATED TAGS: Land-Based | Industry | Legal & Regulatory | Bingo | Casino
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