In a stunning and disappointing decision the Alabama Supreme Court ,dominated by Republicans, ruled that the electronic bingo machines ‘seized’ from VictoryLand casino were actually illegal ‘slot machines.’ Never mind the fact that the machines were specifically designed to comply with the legal definition of bingo in Alabama. Attorney General Luther Strange has pursued his weird vendetta against bingo since the days of former Governor Bob Riley, an anti-gambling extremist. The ‘good ole boys’ court also ruled that a Macon County circuit judge was mistaken when he denied Strange’s request for a search warrant for VictoryLand. Strange has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and resources in his fight against bingo in Alabama.
It took the Supreme Court 46 pages to say that the electronic bingo machines at VictoryLand are illegal. Before VictoryLand reopened in December the casino held an event for the press and had gaming experts on hand to explain how the machines had been designed to conform to Alabama law. Strange did not do any real research into the machines and instead accused the casino of being ‘confrontational.’ In a statement issued after the court’s decision Strange said “I have said from day one that my office would handle this matter through the courts, and today the Supreme Court has spoken. The Court explained in a detailed and thorough opinion why each of Judge [Tom] Young’s reasons for denying the warrant for VictoryLand was wrong as a matter of law. This decision should end the debate on whether so-called ‘electronic bingo’ is illegal. It is illegal and local officials cannot create rules to make it legal. The only question now is whether the Legislature will enact tough penalties so that people will think twice before they engage in large-scale slot-machine gambling in the future.”
While the court may have spoken recent polls show that 78% of Alabama residents disapprove of Strange’s shenanigans and posturing. Most likely these same voters will speak during Strange’s next campaign. Democratic politicians are already lining up against Strange. Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford had this to say about the court’s decision “This is an all-Republican court. They support Luther Strange and the Republican administration in everything they do. It is clear that they have already made up their minds and that the [state] Supreme Court has been compromised.” Strange’s political posturing has cost the area about 600 jobs.
Ford said he and city and county officials will meet with national leaders this weekend during the Bridge Crossing Jubilee event in Selma in commemoration of Bloody Sunday, where civil rights demonstrators were physically beaten by Alabama state troopers in 1965. Hopefully officials can come up with a strategy to reverse the attorney general’s recent actions.