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Monday, May 20 2013 9:15 PM EDT2013-05-21 01:15:38 GMT
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SHORTER, AL (WSFA) -
A controversial casino packed with patrons two months ago now sits very quiet and void of activity. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange's office shut down Macon County's Victoryland Tuesday claiming the machines are illegal.
The move left more than 300 people out of work and bingo lovers without a place to play.
WSFA 12 News was invited inside the complex by Victoryland's general manager after the state raid left it empty.
It's what you don't see inside that tells the story of Tuesday's raid. Spliced cables and exposed electrical outlets scattered across hundreds of square feet of carpet that just two days ago housed around 1,000 sound-making, light-blinking gaming machines.
"It's just ridiculous that how much work went into this - and where we are now," said General Manager Jim Gartland. "These are troughs of wires..."
Gartland says the cables represent an intricate computer network that linked the gaming machines together, eventually feeding to servers throughout the facility. An IT job months in the making.
"You don't own the games, how does that work? that's the sad part, the vendors are essentially out of luck through no fault of their own," Gartland said of the situation.
In search of illegal gaming, Attorney General King also seized nearly every computer in the building.
"In my initial walk through this morning, I noticed some of the doors are marked and tagged," Gartland said. "I assume that's how they were cataloging things."
The raid didn't stop with the seizure of computers. Investigators cleaned house in the area where customers cashed out their earnings. "It just makes you sick to your stomach lot of expensive equipment," Gartland admitted.
A few workers were brought in to seal off the main game room, again. It's a necessity if Victoryland plans to reopen its paramutual betting, a side business that company officials say barely pays the bills.
"Our electronic bingo kept us alive," Gartland said. "I don't know how much longer we can go on with just this,"
The State of Alabama is caught in the cross hairs of a battle over electronic bingo. Is it a criminal act or a business brought down at the state's expense? It's a question the court has yet to answer.
WSFA 12 News has daily sought an on-camera interview with the attorney general, but his staff has refused every request. Strange is out of state, preparing for the BP oil spill case in Louisiana. Even requests to bring a camera and crew to him have been denied.