Gambling halls lose 2 fights before Alabama Supreme Court

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Gambling halls lost two legal battles before the Alabama Supreme Court on Friday, with the justices ruling the state can keep more than more than 800 electronic bingo machines seized from a west Alabama business.

The unanimous, unsigned decision involved the Greenetrack gambling facility, located in Greene County southwest of Birmingham.

In a separate decision involving electronic gambling at another business in east Alabama, the court ruled that three women who filed suit claiming they were cheated at Victoryland could pursue their claims in court.

In the Greenetrack case, the all-Republican court ruled that 825 machines confiscated from the business amounted to illegal slot machines under state law. They rejected arguments that the machines were legal under laws that regulate bingo games, and they cited a previous ruling which said it was time to end court fights over Alabama laws against electronic gambling machines.

“All that is left is for the law of this State to be enforced,” the decision said.

The ruling overturned a lower court ruling which ordered the state to return gambling machines seized in 2010. That judge said the machines complied with a local constitutional amendment authorizing electronic bingo machines in Greene County.

In three cases involving Victoryland, which is located east of Montgomery in Macon County, the court cleared the way for Marie Hoffman, Sandra R. Howard and Dianne Slayton to pursue claims against the casino.

Hoffman alleges she was denied money after twice winning $110,000 jackpots in 2008, and Slayton said she was denied $50,000 after winning a jackpot in 2009. In each case, the women said, workers claimed machines had malfunctioned.

Howard filed suit claiming former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford, now serving time in federal prison for bribery convictions, was allowed to win more than $50,000 after casino workers took him to certain machines to play.

The justices rejected the casino’s claims that all the cases should be handled outside of court through arbitration, ruling that the gambling machines were illegal under state law so the casino can’t enforce its rules requiring arbitration over disputed winnings.

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