Alabama lawmaker says jobs, millions of dollars will be lost after bingo machine ruling

Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 6:38 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 30, 2022 at 8:52 PM CDT
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LOWNDES COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Lowndes County leaders are reacting after the Alabama Supreme Court dealt a blow to some gambling operations in their community on Friday. State Rep. Kelvin Lawrence called the high court’s ruling disappointing and disheartening.

“It just further exacerbates the problem of economic development in one of the poorest counties in the state,” said Lawrence.

The representative says the facilities in his county employed hundreds of people and the loss could be in the millions of dollars.

Alabama Supreme Court tells lower courts to stop electronic bingo in 2 counties

On Friday, the state’s highest court issued orders to cease engaging in “illegal gambling activities” pertaining to defendants in Macon and Lowndes counties, home to facilities including Victoryland, White Hall Entertainment and Southern Star.

“It’s a big chunk of opportunity and funding that had been lost by the closing of these facilities, so, and the contribution that these facilities give to different organizations in the community, whether it’s nonprofits, churches, you’d happen with the sheriff’s department, police department, providing a small grant,” said Lawrence. “So it’s going to be, the impact is going to be felt countywide.”

Within 30 days facilities can no longer receive money from the machines and will no longer be able to transport, or add more machines. Lawrence hopes this decision will push lawmakers to legalize gambling during the next legislative session.

“Kind of put this gambling issue to rest and hopefully, once that happens, we can get across the finish line and make sure that those facilities in Lowndes County are operational and are deemed legal,” he said.

Lawrence adds that the county and its people will be resilient.

“We’ve always had to come from the bottom to kind of find out way to get what we want, and I would tell you to hold on, we’re definitely going to try to work hard as we can, and try to find some relief to those people that have lost their job,” said Lawrence.

While today’s order only addresses Macon and Lowndes County it could ultimately have a statewide impact on other businesses.

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