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Alabama Supreme Court Allows Casino Lawsuits To Proceed

Decision Overturns Lower Court Dismissal Of AG's Lawsuits Against State's Racinos

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The Alabama Supreme Court overturned lower court rulings last Friday, allowing lawsuits to proceed that could shutdown the handful of gaming operators that are operating in the state.

Lawsuits were filed by the state against the three racino-style gaming properties in Alabama in 2017, but were dismissed by the Macon County and Lowndes County circuit courts in 2019, according to the Opelika-Auburn News.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, who was appointed to the position earlier that year, argued that the properties were operating in defiance of Alabama state law. When the lower courts of both counties dismissed the case, Marshall appealed to the highest court in the state, which eventually ruled in his favor.

Certain counties in Alabama, which is one of the most anti-gambling states in the country and one of the few without a state lottery, instituted constitutional amendments to allow for bingo in the area. VictoryLand Casino in Macon Country, Southern Hall Entertainment Center and White Hall Entertainment Center in Lowndes County all operate “bingo-style” gaming machines that are eerily similar to slot machines.

Marshall argues that these machines are closer to slot machines than bingo and should be banned under Alabama law.

“For too long, these individuals, businesses and even elected officials have flagrantly violated Alabama’s laws,” said Marshall in a statement.

Several Macon County officials, including the county sheriff, have voiced support for the property and believe it is operating within the boundaries of the law.

With the Supreme Court’s ruling, the cases will immediately return to the lower courts and proceedings will resume. The tribal casinos in the state, all of which are owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, will not be affected by the outcome of the cases.

Earlier this year, the tribe was pushing for a gaming compact with the state. But Gov. Kay Ivey said that she won’t sign a compact until a study focusing on the effects of gambling on the state is completed.