The Alabama Supreme Court stayed the course on their anti-gambling position when they ruled against Greenetrack Bingo & Racing and Victoryland in two separate cases Friday.
The justices decided unanimously that the state could keep over 800 bingo machines they had seized from Greenetrack, located southwest of Birmingham, citing an earlier decision by the all republican court that Victoryland had no right to see their machines returned as the electronic gambling devices were actually illegal slot machines, not electronic bingo machines.
The state has found itself at odds with the definition of “slot machine” as some of the machines seized from Victoryland were sold to and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians at their tribal casinos in Alabama. Without a Class III gaming compact the tribe cannot offer slot machines, only electronic bingo, and needs no permission from the state to offer the Class II gaming devices.
Lawyers for Victoryland in Shorter will have to face suits from three women who claim they were cheated at the gaming venue, formerly the world’s largest bingo hall. At least two of them claim they were denied jackpots when workers told them the machines had malfunctioned.
One woman claims the machines are rigged and her basis for the claim was that casino workers steered former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford to machines that allowed him to win more than $50,000. Some local media reports from 2010 contend that tax returns show Langford won more than $1.5 million with over 550 jackpots including 36 jackpots totaling $96,000 at VictoryLand. Langford is now serving time in federal prison for bribery convictions unrelated to the casino.
Another woman claims she was denied her winnings after hitting two jackpots worth $110,000 each in 2008, while the third plaintiff alleges she was denied a $50,000 jackpot in 2009.
Counsel for the casino argued that house rules required the claims to be settled outside of the court system by arbitration. However, the court ruled that because the machines were illegal Victoryland had no standing to enforce its rules.
Victoryland re-opened on September 15 after the governor issued an executive order stripping the state’s Attorney General of the power to enforce Alabama gambling laws, instead leaving it up to local law enforcement agencies, most of whom believe local referendums authorize the machines.