Illegal gambling in Houston County to end after agreement reached between casino owners, state

Illegal gambling in Houston County will end after casino owners reached a settlement with the state.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced the agreement Sept. 6. Under the terms of the settlement, the Houston Economic Development Association (HEDA) — a nonprofit organization in Houston County — agreed to cease its illegal gambling operations at Center Stage. Marshall filed a lawsuit against the casino and the Houston County Commission in October of last year.

“It is my duty as Attorney General to enforce Alabama’s laws, and to prevent individuals and organizations from offering illegal gambling in our state,” Marshall said in a press release. “As a result of the State’s suit, HEDA has agreed to remove the games in question and has agreed to change its operations to comply with the law.”

Games in question

The games in question include illegal table games, illegal electronic games of chance and electronic bingo. Under the terms of the agreement, the table games must go immediately and the other games must be gone by the end of the month. Center Stage can continue to offer bingo that is legal under the laws of Alabama, according to Marshall’s office.

The state has sued other businesses in the effort to shut down illegal gambling operations at the facilities. In October 2017, Marshall announced lawsuits in Greene, Houston, Lowndes, Macon and Morgan counties. Marshall asked circuit courts in those counties to grant preliminary injunctions to stop unlawful gambling operations. Marshall also asked the courts to declare the casinos public nuisances and permanently bar them from operating games with the electronic machines, including electronic bingo machines.

The Houston County case is the second case settled by Marshall’s office. On Oct. 26, 2017, the Morgan County Circuit Court sided with the state when it ordered River City Entertainment to shutter its doors and cease offering illegal gambling.

Lawsuits in Greene, Lowndes and Macon counties are still pending.