Victoryland closes; bingo battle continues

Buses block the entrance to Victoryland in Short, Ala.
Buses block the entrance to Victoryland in Short, Ala.

SHORTER, AL (WSFA) - Victoryland owner Milton McGregor released a statement Monday morning saying that the casino he owns off I-85 in Macon County will "temporarily close its electronic bingo operation." He said pressure from the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling and the safety of his employees was the key to the decision.

A response to last Friday's Task Force motion to clear the way for a raid was due by the plaintiffs at 4:00pm Monday. No word is available on that response, currently.

"We are deeply saddened our 600 remaining employees will be forced out of a job just days before the start of the school year," McGregor said in the statement.

The Governor's office says McGregor's actions are proof he's running illegal gambling machines, saying he, "runs away like a scalded dog."

"These casino bosses all claim they just want their day in court, yet when it's time to take their slot machines before a court, the casino bosses run and hide," said Jeff Emerson, Communications Director for Governor Bob Riley.

McGregor issued a statement late in the afternoon responding to Emerson's assertions saying, "We have never run away from a fight. Do not mistake our actions today. Victoryland was here long before Riley became governor and we will be here long after his reign has ended."

McGregor contends that the safety of his customers and employees was the reason behind the closure as, "It is apparent from [Task Force Commander John Tyson] and Riley's latest legal shenanigans and threats that they will stop at nothing to put on a show and attempt to raid Victoryland to garner one last bit of publicity before Czar Riley leaves office and the Task Force is disbanded."

Buses were pulled across the entranceways, and barricades were set up as authorities from Victoryland kept people from entering the facility.

The center won't stay completely closed for long. McGregor says the parimutuel facilities (horse racing) will be re-opened on August 12 at 5:00pm.

CLICK HERE to read the full statement from Milton McGregor.

CANDIDATES SOUND OFF - Neither is a Task Force fan.

Governor Bob Riley's administration is winding down and the next governor will be one of two men: Ron Sparks (D) or Robert Bentley (R). What do they have to say about the situation?

  • BENTLEY - "I am just not going to continue the Governor's task force.  But, having said that...I will enforce the law. And constitutional amendments have to be changed by a vote of the people."
  • SPARKS - "It is sad to me that during one of the worst periods of unemployment in our history Gov. Bob Riley has now killed an entire industry and thousands of jobs. This question should be decided by all Alabamians, not one man. And I pledge to reopen, and tax and regulate these gaming facilities in my first month of office and finally give the people of Alabama the right to vote on this issue."

John Tyson, the Commander of the Task Force says the shutdown isn't deterring him from doing his job. He wants to go in and raid the center, seizing hundreds of machines, but he says he'll wait on a Supreme Court ruling to determine what his next move happens to be.

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