McGregor: 'Victoryland about to start hiring, will reopen soon'
SHORTER, AL (WSFA) - Victoryland owner Milton McGregor announced plans Monday to move forward with reopening of his sprawling gaming complex in Macon County. The decision comes despite losing an appeal last week before the Alabama Supreme Court regarding electronic bingo machines and money seized by the State 2013.
McGregor said that he is in the "final stages" of preparing to hire workers and that the doors to the Shorter casino will reopen in "early summer" after new machines are in place and workers are trained.
A statement released by McGregor's camp stated they expect the facility to offer games that are "identical" to those played at nearby casinos on Native America property.
The announcement comes after Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange's office was successful in appealing a lower court's order to return 1,615 gaming machines and nearly $265,000 seized in a Feb. 2013 raid on the complex.
The Alabama Supreme Court, citing the six characteristics of "bingo" as defined in Riley vs. Cornerstone, reversed the decision.
McGregors and his backers are expected to challenge the court's ruling.
Macon County officials believe this time is different.
In 2015, the state charged district attorneys and sheriffs with the responsibility of prosecuting illegal bingo. The new Macon County Sheriff, Andre Brunson, has written correspondence with the governor, assuring he takes that responsibility seriously.
"We will have a careful review, unlike the Alabama Supreme Court, to determine if the guidelines set forth by Macon County are being followed," Brunson explained.
Brunson and his attorney, James Anderson, reported every machine delivered to Victoryland will be tested by the best in the industry to assure the law is being followed.
McGregor has no concern the state will raid again.
"I am not concerned at all," McGregor said. "I know we are on the right side of the law and we are going to stay there. We are going to comply with the constitution."
Macon County officials decried the high court ruling, finding legal fault with the decision; even accusing the justices of being paid off with Native American casino dollars. Currently the Poarch Band of Creek Indians' casinos, PCI Gaming, are the only businesses up and running with electronic bingo.
"The ruling last week, which will be appealed, is not worth the paper it is written on," Brunson said.
McGregor says he will have the same machines as PCI Gaming.
Those machines have been difficult to lease, as the AG signed a Memorandum of Understanding with major vendors not to lease machines to Alabama casinos, with the exception of Native American casinos.
"We still have two or three vendors that are intimidated by this illegal agreement," McGregor said.
The AG's Office maintains the agreements are legal, but the Native American Casinos were the topic of a letter sent by the U.S. Attorney George Beck last week.
Beck wrote the governor and AG last week to clarify the state's position on electronic bingo, and illegal slot machines as it's been called, citing the Native Americans are not allowed to have slot machines in Alabama.
We have confirmed that Bentley received a response from the Attorney General, and is analyzing the information.
Attorney General Strange's office has not yet commented on McGregor's plans or what the AG's office would do if McGregor moves forward.
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