Despite an Alabama Supreme Court ruling last week overturning a lower court’s ruling issued in 2015 in favor of VictoryLand in a forfeiture case, owner Milton McGregor said at a press conference on Monday that the facility will reopen its doors early this summer.
On Thursday, the Alabama Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling issued in June 2015 and found that the raid conducted on the casino’s electronic bingo hall by the State of Alabama was within the law. The unanimous decision allows the state to keep the approximately $260,000 in cash and more than 1,200 electronic bingo machines that were confiscated from VictoryLand in the 2013 raid. The Court found that the application of an equal protection ruling in the case by Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge William Shashy was in error. The Supreme Court also disagreed with Shashy’s assessment that when Macon County voters passed a bingo referendum in 2003 they intended to approve electronic bingo.
Despite that, Milton McGregor, stood before a packed room at a press conference on Monday at VictoryLand alongside Macon County officials and supporters and stated “We have every intention of opening. Actually, no, let me restate that – I am going to reopen,” as reported by the Opelika-Auburn News. McGregor said they will continue to work closely with Macon County Sheriff Andre Brunson, as well as Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to ensure what’s done at VictoryLand is in complete compliance with the Alabama Constitution and the rules and regulations established by the sheriff.
According to McGregor, since receiving the Supreme Court’s opinion, which he called “corrupt,” his legal team has been working nonstop. Sheriff Brunson believes it was the voter’s intent to approve electronic bingo and his office is prepared to approve and vet the machines for the facility. In November, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed Executive Order 13, which transfers gambling enforcement to district attorneys and local sheriffs, removing the power from the AG’s office. Brunson said the Supreme Court ruling was “flawed and dishonest,” and that last week’s ruling will be appealed and “is not worth the paper it was written on.” Attorneys for VictoryLand can appeal the Supreme Court’s decision to federal court if they choose.
Since last fall, employees have worked 16-plus hour days readying the casino for the reopening, originally expected by last Christmas, said McGregor. Despite setbacks due to damage caused by the 2013 raid, McGregor said VictoryLand is nearly ready to reopen for business. He says they’ll start off with “several hundred” electronic bingo machines, growing that number with public demand. He said that more than 4,000 job applications have been accepted by the casino, from residents of Macon and several other surrounding counties.
Recently, U.S. Attorney George Beck sent a letter to Attorney General Luther Strange and Governor Bentley requesting clarification of the state’s position on electronic bingo, as well as the legality of the memorandums. At Monday’s press conference McGregor said he welcomes the review.