Alabama Casino Reopens

A casino in Alabama that has been closed for two years reopened in December. VictoryLand casino was opened without fanfare. Reports indicated that the casino was packed with players. VictoryLand is in Macon County just off of I-85. Public officials and the local citizenry have been waiting for the casino to reopen. VictoryLand is the area’s largest employer and has been an economic engine in the county for years.

In 2010 former Alabama governor and anti-gambling extremist Bob Riley closed the casino and said that the electronic bingo machines were illegal. Riley’s heavy handed move put hundreds of casino employees out of work in an area with few job opportunities. Riley’s move also handed Indian casinos a monopoly on gambling in the state. VictoryLand has also been threatened by the state’s attorney general who is determined to keep Riley’s vendetta against privately owned casino alive. The casino was raided in 2010 and hundreds of electronic bingo machines and a large amount of cash were seized.

Before reopening VictoryLand invited the media to come and inspect the new machines. The casino purchased new bingo machines designed to comply with Alabama’s definition of bingo.  VictoryLand brought in a gaming expert who directed the New Jersey gaming enforcement’s testing lab for 22 years. He demonstrated how the new machines operate and how they comply with the state’s bingo rules. He stated he was certain the games were different from slot machines. Macon County Sheriff David Warren, who is in charge of gambling in the county, said that the new machines are legal and in compliance with Macon County regulations. Warren stated “I accept these machines as legal. How clear can it be that these machines play bingo?”

VictoryLand is waiting to see what attorney general Luther Strange’s next move will be. Strange has said he would try to shut down the casino. During his campaign for attorney general in 2010 Strange received a $100,000 contribution from Indian gaming interests which as caused many to question Strange’s motives. Strange has a huge conflict of interest because of the ‘donation.’ Currently Indian casinos in the state are offering electronic bingo and pay no state taxes. VictoryLand pays taxes and employs hundreds and has been the county’s largest employer for years. Hopefully Strange will leave the casino alone and people in Macon County will be able to keep their jobs.

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