The Alabama AG’s Office obtained temporary restraining orders against the casinos, closing them for at least the near future.
By: Josh Moon, Alabama Political Reporter
State and federal authorities raided and closed 14 electronic bingo halls around Jefferson County this week, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said at a press conference on Wednesday.
In a press release, Marshall said that his office obtained temporary restraining orders against all 14 businesses, which will keep them closed pending a court decision within the next two weeks. Law enforcement also confiscated more than 2,400 electronic bingo machines.
“The facilities shut down today were operating in blatant violation of state law, apparently without fear of reprisal,” Marshall said. “Our action this week came in response to numerous complaints about the trouble that illegal gambling has brought into these communities. These citizens deserve better. Allowing criminal enterprises to operate freely, in broad daylight, is offensive to the rule of law and will not be tolerated.”
The raids continue a decades-old argument over the legality of electronic bingo in the state. Numerous counties have passed bingo amendments that they believe give them the right to operate the games. Marshall and the state’s Supreme Court have disagreed, calling the games illegal slot machines.
AG Marshall continues to pursue a lawsuit to close electronic bingo establishments in Greene County, despite Alabama Constitutional Amendment No. 743, which legalized them under the supervision of the Sheriff. A sign posted on the William M. Branch Greene County Courthouse door says the next hearing in the Greene County case is set for May 4, 2023.
The electronic games, which are played at all Poarch Band of Creek Indians casinos, are legal under the federal definition of bingo and several states have also adopted that definition.
The raids this week were conducted by ALEA, the FBI and DEA.