Judge orders investigators to return machines to White Hall

WHITE HALL, Ala. (WSFA) -- A week and a half later, a business under a state investigation has the chance to fill empty spots on the gaming floor and get back to work.

"We're trying to open up Tuesday, actually," said Collins Pettaway, an attorney representing White Hall Entertainment Center.

"We're trying to open up Tuesday morning if possible."

The fast track to re-opening is all part of a temporary injunction approved by Judge Mark Kennedy.

The court order cited a strong argument on the part of White Hall Entertainment Center that their machines could be legal bingo machines and not slot machines as investigators claim.

Governor Bob Riley, however, disagrees with the finding.  A statement released by Riley's office says the decision is "fundamentally flawed and will be reversed on appeal because the Alabama Supreme Court has already ruled that slot machines are illegal in every county of Alabama."

Though the judge's order could be reversed, attorneys for White Hall Entertainment Center say they'll take advantage of the ruling while their case plays out in court.

"They can't introduce new [games], but they can do what they were doing pending the outcome of the case," said Attorney Bobby Segall.

Good news for more than 100 workers displaced by a major investigation.

"It's so important to the employees. They really are good employees loyal.  They really, really, really want to work," Pettaway said.

Judge Kennedy also ruled a finding of a "threat of immediate and irreparable harm" on the part of the state, saying the organization running the entertainment center won't be able to meet its financial obligations --including about $250,000 in scheduled grants.

Sunday, Governor Riley added to his statement, unhappy over the ruling and the man behind it.

Judge Mark Kennedy recused himself from the case after handing down the temporary injunction.

The Governor's Press Secretary says Kennedy should have taken himself off the case before the ruling.

"The judge in this case has admitted conflict of interest, yet has refused to recuse himself from the case prior to this ruling," said Todd Stacy.

"It's really unconscionable.  It's like playing basketball against a team and the referee has bet on the other team.  It's something we shouldn't put up with."

The state is likely to appeal the ruling.  We'll keep you posted.