JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - State agents raided four electronic gaming halls in Jefferson County Tuesday morning including two in Brighton, one in Graysville, and one in Midfield.
According to the office of Attorney General Steve Marshall, four gambling facilities were raided by state agents from the AG's office with help from the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation.
The establishments included Super Highway Bingo and Fun-N-Games Arcade in Brighton, Southwind Bingo in Midfield, and Spin It & Win It Bingo in Graysville.
Marshall’s office says 1,100 electronic bingo machines and an unspecified amount of U.S. currency were seized from the four locations. They say the machines will be held as evidence and subject to forfeiture.
“We are all disappointed with the way things went down. You know we are trying to fill a hole in our budget,” said Graysville Mayor Julio Davis.
The mayor sent a letter to Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway and state Attorney General Steve Marshall last week promising to follow state law. Sheriff Pettway’s office has repeatedly said they consider enforcing misdemeanor gambling laws to be a low priority.
Mayor Davis said the gambling hall would have meant more than $300,000 to his city with the loss of tax revenue from the closure of Lowe’s in January.
Others are not happy in Graysville. “I mean this is money for our city. What are they going to do now? I feel like it should be OK. They are not hurting anybody,” Kayla Peoples said.
“I don’t understand why they are trying to say it’s illegal and it’s not illegal in Greene County or other counties. They let them run wide open,” said Charles Turner.
“I came here last week to see what the hoopla was about. I just saw the elderly people sitting down to play bingo,” Katrina Turner said.
Bessemer District Attorney Lynnice Washington served Jefferson County electronic bingo halls with cease and desist letters in March.
"The cease and desist was a letter and not an order. Just to let people know the laws in the state of Alabama and if they are in violation of those laws, it's better to cease and desist before further action," said Washington.
We spoke to Washington hours before the raids. She said she was waiting for local police to make the first move.
"As soon as they do something, then the district attorney's office, we can possibly prosecute those cases," Washington said.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s office previously said electronic bingo is a “low priority”.
Attorney General Steve Marshall continues to say electronic bingo is illegal in Alabama.
“The law in Alabama is clear. Slot machines are illegal. There is no basis for somebody to operate that business and we believe anyone who wants to attend those businesses that is not the place for them to be,” Marshall said.
In a release, Marshall’s office said the actions taken Tuesday were “necessary due to the opening of multiple facilities offering illegal electronic games and the failure of local law enforcement to enforce the law.”
The following individuals, who were employed or working inside the facilities, were arrested:
“Spin It & Win It” (Graysville, AL)
- William Thomas Manning, Jr. (Manager) – Promoting Gambling (x1); Possession of Gambling Devices (x97)
- Amber Marello – Promoting Gambling (x1)
“Super Highway Bingo” (Brighton, AL)
- Madge Rowena Warren (Manager) – Promoting Gambling (x1); Possession of Gambling Devices (x219)
- Kimberly Jones – Promoting Gambling (x1)
- Litisa Marcell Gates – Promoting Gambling (x1)
“Southwind Bingo” (Midfield, AL)
- Teresa Dunn (Manager) – Promoting Gambling (x1); Possession of Gambling Devices (x370)
- Kelley Headley – Promoting Gambling (x1)
- Robert Foster – Promoting Gambling (x1)
- Gary Wilson – Promoting Gambling (x1)
- Siscily Toles – Promoting Gambling (x1)
- Janson Wilborn – Promoting Gambling (x1)
- Chandler Wilborn – Promoting Gambling (x1)
- Sherita Gunter – Promoting Gambling (x1)
“Fun N Games Arcade” (Brighton, AL)
- Danielle McNeely (Manager) - Possession of gambling devices (x251) and Promoting Gambling (x1)
- Sharon Young – Promoting Gambling (x1)
- Tina Anthony – Promoting Gambling (x1)
- Shaunta Smith – Promoting Gambling (x1)
- Walidah Young – Promoting Gambling (x1)
No further details will be released at this time as the AG’s office says the seizure of the machines happened as part of an ongoing investigation.