By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, July 7, attorneys for Milton McGregor and Victoryland have filed a motion in Montgomery Circuit Judge William Shashy’s courtroom asking that the State release all of the money and electronic bingo machines that it has seized from McGregor’s Macon County casino, Victoryland.
The motions asks that the Court, “Alter and amend its judgment in order to make certain findings and to include a certain directive, to more fully protect the rights and interests of movant which (as the Court previously found) is being subjected to an unequal treatment or application of the law.”
McGregor’s attorneys led by Joe Espy contend that McGregor’s Victoryland Casino was operating legally under Amendment 744 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 and that there is no grounds for McGregor’s assets to be forfeited to the State of Alabama now that Judge Shashy has thrown the case out of court.
McGregor’s legal team, “Requests that the Court, based upon the great weight of substantial evidence presented at trial, which was undisputed and not contested by the State of Alabama, find, as fact: ( 1) that the publicly-known and widely understood intent of Amendment 744 was to allow all forms of bingo games that were or would be played in competing facilities including Indian facilities in Alabama, including electronic bingo as played on the equipment at issue in this case; (2) that the purpose of Amendment 744 was to allow Macon County facilities to compete fairly with all such competitor gaming sites, in order to aid the economy of Macon County; and (3) that the electronic bingo games played at the premises at issue in Macon County were the same type electronic bingo machines played at competing facilities, namely Greenetrack, Greene Charity Bingo and all Indian gaming facilities in Alabama, including the undisputed fact that the exact bingo machines formerly used at the subject facility in Macon County are now in operation and being played at the Indian gaming facilities.” And goes on to “Requests that the Court order and direct that all property at issue in this case be returned to KCED. In the absence of such an order and directive, the State will likely take the position that it can retain that property despite the unfairness that the Court discussed in its judgment.”
McGregor’s defense team argue that, “This Court has jurisdiction to rule on this motion, even though the State rushed to file a notice of appeal.”
The State is holding 1,615 gambling machines and $263,105.81 that it seized from Victoryland when they raided the casino in January 2013. The casino had been closed since it became apparent that Governor Bob Riley’s (R) Gambling Task Force was going to raid the facility. After McGregor was found not guilty on federal charges that he was involved in an alleged conspiracy to bribe the Alabama State Senate, he reopened Victoryland. After just a few weeks of operation officers with Alabama Attorney General’s office raided the facility and took the machines and money.
On Thursday, June 25, Circuit Court Judge William A. Shashy dismissed the Alabama Attorney General’s office’s case against Milton McGregor and his Macon County Victoryland Casino.
Judge Shashy wrote in his ruling that everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law and accused the AG’s office of “cherry picking” which casinos to raid and which to ignore. Specifically he referred to the Poarch Creek Band of Creek Indians (PCI) who run electronic bingo games in Wetumpka, Montgomery, and Atmore.
Judge Shashy wrote, “The court can not condone or perpetuate unequal treatment.” “This Court refuses to be used an instrument to perpetuate unfair treatment.”
Milton McGregor said then, “Today’s ruling is a victory for the people of Macon County and the entire State of Alabama. I am grateful that a respected Judge appointed by the Alabama Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Victoryland. The decision paves the way for electronic bingo to resume at Victoryland and for the people of Macon County to once again go back to work and provide for their families.”
Espy has told reporters that McGregor does not need the machines to reopen Victoryland and that they think that the machines were damaged by state officers when they raided Victoryland.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) said then, “I am surprised at the court order because it fails to address the key question posed by both parties which is whether the VictoryLand gambling machines are illegal. We’re reviewing the order to determine how best to settle the issue once and for all.”
The Attorney General’s office has appealed Judge Shashy’s decision to toss the state’s case against Victoryland out of court.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) has proposed a plan which would legalize the casinos at the four dog tracks (including Victoryland) in exchange for tax revenue. Governor Bentley has announced that he is opposed to more gaming in Alabama as has the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn). Hubbard had previously been backing a plan to give the Poarch Creek Indians (PCI) class III gaming in exchange for tax dollars.
AG Strange has attempted to bring action against the Poarch Creek’s casinos; but has been hampered to this point by the US Bureau of Indian Affairs which claims both jurisdiction and that the Indians are not doing anything wrong.
Victoryland has already begun to take job applications.