After more harassment from professional bluenose and anti-gambling extremist Luther Strange VictoryLand casino reopened. Alabama attorney general Luther Strange has pursued a vendetta against VictoryLand and electronic bingo for years. During the most recent raid over a thousand bingo machines were seized along with a large amount of cash. The machines had been specially designed to comply with the state’s definition of bingo but that wasn’t good enough for Strange. Hundreds of people lost their jobs after the raid. Local politicians were not pleased and a poll showed that 78% of Alabama voters disapproved of the raids.
On March 15th VictoryLand will reopen for betting on simulcast horse and dog racing. VictoryLand is also seeking the return of the purloined bingo machines. K.C. Economic Development, a company associated with VictoryLand filed a claim in Macon Circuit Court. The company contends that Strange had no right to seize the machines and other property. VictoryLand lawyer Joe Espy wrote “The property at issue in this case was being used in a legal manner consistent with Amendment 744 of the Alabama Constitution of 1901 and the Macon County bingo regulations.”
The state is seeking forfeiture of the machines and $223,000 in cash and claims the machines are against the law. In a separate action VictoryLand opposed state efforts to get the Macon County judge, who initially refused to sign a search warrant for VictoryLand, to step aside from the case. After the local judge refused a search warrant Strange took the unprecedented action of obtaining a search warrant from the Alabama Supreme Court. Critics say the court is part of the ‘good ole boys’ network and is dominated by right wingers that oppose gambling.
Initially Macon County Circuit Judge Tom Young refused to sign a search warrant for VictoryLand. Young was finally forced to sign by the Supreme Court. Young added a handwritten note to the search warrant that he was signing it with “the greatest judicial reluctance.” VictoryLand attorney Espy wrote “Indeed, all the grounds for recusal at their core demonstrate that the state is seeking to oust a very conscientious judge who takes very seriously his duties to follow the law.” Strange’s office said that Young should recuse himself because he demonstrated ‘prejudice’ against the state’s weak case.
After the reopening VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor said “We are happy to reopen and put some of our employees back to work.” McGregor said that many employees had “lost their jobs due to the illegal forced closing on Feb. 19th by the Alabama Attorney General.” Strange said that VictoryLand is operating in “open defiance” of Alabama law. Strange just keeps getting stranger!