Despite unfavourable ruling, VictoryLand will reopen

VictoryLand has been closed since early 2013.
VictoryLand has been closed since early 2013.

Owner Milton McGregor affirmed during a press conference inside the shuttered casino, he will reopen “by the summer.”

US.- Milton McGregor held a press conference at his shuttered casino surrounded by supporters and a number of elected officials from adjacent counties. McGregors declared: “We have every intention of opening. Actually, no, let me restate that – I am going to reopen.” VictoryLand’s owner added the casino will be re-opened by summer. In addition, McGregor criticised the recent Alabama Supreme Court opinion that deemed illegal the electronic bingo games operated at his casino in the past. “I’ll call it what it is: it was a political opinion made up to look like a legal opinion,” he expressed.

VictoryLand has been closed since 2013 when it was raided by the state’s attorney general’s office. The postponement in its re-opening has been mainly due to delays in fixing damage done by the AG’s office during that raid and to difficulties locating gaming machine vendors who were willing to provide machines.

Back in 2011, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange entered into several “memorandums of understanding” with gaming vendors, which allowed the vendors to remove their machines from certain casinos around the state in exchange for agreeing not to return at risk of being charged with a crime by the AG’s office. Now, even after an executive order from Gov. Robert Bentley late last year that removed the authority to police gambling in the state from the AG’s office and returned it to local sheriffs, those memorandums of understanding have made some distributors hesitant. “Without those two things – the damage and those illegal agreements – we would have opened before Christmas,” McGregor said.

U.S. Attorney George Beck wrote a letter to Strange asking him to clarify the state’s position on electronic bingo and questioning the legality of the memorandums. Furthermore, Macon County Sheriff Andre Brunson, said he is of the opinion that voters in Macon County approved electronic bingo for operation when they passed a 2003 constitutional amendment and since Bentley has provided him with the authority to both approve the gaming and ensure its legal practice, he plans to do that. “According to the constitution, I have the legal authority to approve these games and that’s what I plan to do – the games played in Macon County will be tested and approved to my satisfaction,” said Brunson. “Any person seeking to interfere with the operation of bingo games in this county will have legal issues to deal with from my office.”

Meanwhile, local city and county leaders continued to complain about the loss of jobs and tax revenue in the poverty-stricken county. Macon school board officials and county commissioners attended the press conference. According to McGregor he has received more than 4,000 applications from at least seven counties since announcing VictoryLand would reopen. The casino is the county’s largest employer and had nearly 2,500 employees in 2011.