GREENE COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Greenetrack has become the first closed Alabama casino to reopen. Greenetrack had a line of customers when it opened 100 electronic bingo machines at midday Friday. President Luther "Nat" Winn said the machines have been reviewed by Greene County law enforcement officials, who determined they comply with the law.
Winn on Thursday citied "change in political leadership in Alabama state government," for his decision to reopen. Winn said 100 electronic bingo player machines would be available to customers starting Friday and as advertised, the facility opened at noon on March 18.
"During his campaign, Governor Bentley promised to allow properly licensed facilities in counties with valid constitutional amendments to reopen," Winn said in a statement. "Greene County has a valid constitutional amendment. In 2003, Greene County held a Special Election to amend the constitution proposed by Act 2003-433 authorizing electronic Bingo to be played on electronic equipment…"
Winn added that his machines "have been tested and certified as legal electronic bingo machines and cannot be construed as slot machines even under the broad test announced by Attorney General Luther Strange."
Attorney General Luther Strange's office issued a three sentence statement several hours prior to Greenetrack's official announcement.
"This Office has received numerous press reports that Greenetrack will reopen tomorrow with machines purporting to play electronic bingo. We have previously met with attorneys from Greenetrack, and they are aware of the state's legal position against slot machines and the Supreme Court of Alabama's definition of the game of bingo. This issue will be handled like any other law enforcement matter."
Greenetrack casino was shut down in a July 2010 raid by former Gov. Bob Riley's now defunct Task Force on Illegal Gambling. The Task Force closed the track and seized hundreds of the machines.
The raids sparked protests that included Greene County's state senator and many of the 350 people employed by the track.
Winn says the expansion "will allow us to generate money for all our local charities such as the Greene County Board of Education, volunteer fire departments, and the Greene County Hospital and Nursing Home."