Montgomery Circuit Judge dismisses gaming lawsuit against Senator Bobby Singleton, Greenetrack Inc and Nat Winn

Montgomery Circuit Judge Jimmy B. Pool dismissed a lawsuit filed earlier this year by Greene County bingo charities against Senator Bobby Singleton, Greenetrack Inc. and Luther “Nat” Winn, as owner and manager of Greenetrack. The bingo charities, Age with Dignity Inc., which is associated with the T.S. Police Support League charity working with the Palace Bingo and OIC Dream Greene County, which is a charity affiliated with Frontier Bingo filed the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by Attorney Thomas T. Gallion of Montgomery. In their lawsuit they allege, “that Defendants Greenetrack Inc. and Nat Winn provided money to and conspired with co-defendant Senator Bobby Singleton to pass legislation that would allegedly create a gaming monopoly and put the Plaintiffs out of business. Plaintiffs allege that they have been denied various opportunities to benefit from gaming …and that even though the legislation was defeated in the last legislative session, Defendants will continue to support similar legislation in the future.” This lawsuit was filed in response to legislative efforts to create a statewide lottery in Alabama and designate five casinos statewide to permit slot machines, table gaming and sports gaming. Greenetrack, was the sole gaming establishment in Greene County recognized in this legislation. Other bingo facilities in Greene County, currently licensed and authorized under Greene County Amendment 743, were not mentioned in the proposed legislation and probably would have been closed down, if this legislation and a subsequent statewide referendum had passed. In dismissing the lawsuit against Senator Bobby Singleton, Greenetrack and Winn, the judge says, “Plaintiffs lack standing and failed to plead any injury … or alleged conspiracy to pass legislation because the legislation failed to pass, and the likelihood that similar legislation will pass in the future is too speculative to confer standing for the Plaintiffs.” The Judge in his ruling further points out that the Legislature as a whole and not just Senator Singleton is responsible for passing legislation. The Judge also denied other claims by the Plaintiffs in their case. Senator Bobby Singleton was separately represented by Brad A. Chynoweth, a State Assistant Attorney General, because the lawsuit was filed against him in his official capacity as a State Legislator conducting state business. Legislators are protected by state law from lawsuits for official actions taken in their role as legislators. Judge Pool dismissed the case against Senator Singleton for additional reasons related to his immunity from prosecution for actions taken in his role as a Senator. He also stated that the Defendants lacked standing because they could show no injury from a bill that Singleton did not sponsor and that did not pass the Legislature in the past session. Luther Winn in a statement to the Democrat said, “It is a shame that Greenetrack, which is the only gaming facility in the county owned by Greene County residents, has to spend money for lawyers to defend and expand gaming in the county. Other bingo owners take their gaming profits out of Greene County to benefit other people and places. Over the years, Greenetrack has proven to pay higher wages and support more charities and people in Greene County.” Sheila Smith and Billy McFarland with the Age with Dignity Charity, when contacted by the Democrat, said “We are planning to file a motion for reconsideration of the judge’s decision in this case and an appeal if necessary.” In a separate but related matter, the Democrat received an announcement from the Greene County Legislative Delegation consisting of Senator Bobby Singleton, Representative Ralph Howard and Representative Artis (A.J.) McCampbell that they are holding a Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, August 25, 2021 at the Eutaw Activity Center to seek input from the people of Greene County on their future legislative work and direction. This is an opportunity for Greene County people to express their concerns about the future of gaming in our county.