A ruling by the Jefferson County Circuit Court has shuttered a Birmingham gambling operation and once again upheld Alabama’s prohibitions on gambling and slot machines.
In its ruling, the court found that the machines seized Aug. 24, 2016, at the Bid City location near Tarrant operated as slot machines under Alabama law.
According to court documents, deputies seized more than 100 computer stations and approximately $1,000 in cash in the raid. The computers were equipped with software that included illegal sweepstakes games in conjunction with online auctions, according to a press release issued by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office.
“Bid City profited by targeting our communities, and misrepresenting their slot-style machines as legal sweepstakes,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Pro Tem Danny Carr in a statement thanking the sheriff’s office and the attorney general’s office for their assistance in the case.
Marshall announced he has issued a cease and desist letter to Blue Streak Bids, parent company and operator of Redibids.com, provider of the software. The company offers online versions of the games found on the Bid City computers, which Marshall said were also illegal. Blue Streak Bids has until Sept. 1 to stop offering illegal gambling on their website in the state of Alabama.
The raid at Bid City is one of several that have taken place in the state this year, including another facility closed down by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. That case is still pending in court, according to a spokesperson in the attorney general’s office.
In March, Calhoun County deputies seized six machines in a raid on a liquor store. In April, Tuscaloosa police seized multiple illegal gaming machines. And in May, a joint operation between the Jasper Police Department and the Walker County Sherriff’s Office resulted in the seizure of almost 50 illegal gambling machines at four separate locations. The Walker County seizures included a Bid City location where players were purportedly bidding on merchandise yet were paid in U.S. currency with no requirements to bid on anything, according to local news reports.
“There’s never any end to the imagination of gamblers,” said Eric Johnston, a Birmingham lawyer who represents the Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP). “They come up with some of the most unusual ways to get your money. Under the definition of ‘slot machine,’ it’s a game of chance no matter what you’re doing in the game.”
The raids come at a time when enforcement of Alabama’s prohibition on gaming and illegal gambling is spotty at best. Electronic bingo operations are open in Macon, Greene, Lowndes and Houston counties despite multiple court decisions declaring them illegal.
“The fact is we still have gambling in Alabama and it still needs to be prosecuted,” Johnston said.
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