Controversy surrounds Center Stage's grand opening, gaming machines

DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - Deja Vu? The grand opening of Center Stage in what was the Country Crossing facility in Dothan is creating some controversy because gaming machines will be part of the entertainment.

More than 500 employees are working around the clock to get the center ready for its opening Friday. Restaurants are setting up and construction is underway for the center bar.

As for bingo, organizers of Center Stage say they're working on gaming machines they believe will pass Alabama state law tests.

The Alabama Attorney General's office, no stranger to the gambling/electron bingo battle, is keeping a close eye on the situation.

So will this become a new Country Crossing that sees its machines in the cross hairs of state investigators? Attorney General Luther Strange's office says it's had "numerous conversations" with Center Stage's legal representatives and says the AG's office reiterated its position on the type of gaming activity allowable in Houston County.

While Center Stage organizers would not allow cameras inside the facility, they allow WSFA 12 News reporter Hannah Lane onto the property for a personal tour. Organizers said the "machines" will replicate bingo and will be "nothing like" machines most would be familiar with.

"This office will enforce the law. We will make sure that slot machines are not being operated, that only the traditional form of bingo is offered, and that any bingo that is offered is operated exclusively by and for a charity and in strict compliance with each and every requirement of the Houston County Constitutional Amendment, as the law requires," Attorney General Strange said.

"We trust that the Center Stage operators will abide by Alabama law, and if they do not, appropriate law enforcement action will be taken."

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