Morgan County court order shuts down electronic bingo operation

Morgan County court order shuts down electronic bingo operation

An Oct. 26 order by the Circuit Court of Morgan County has shut down an electronic gambling operation in Lacey Springs.

The ruling means River City Entertainment must close its doors while a civil lawsuit filed in early October makes its way through the courts.

The lawsuit was filed jointly in Morgan County by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson to stop the operation of electronic gambling machines at the facility.

On Oct. 4, Marshall announced the filing of civil lawsuits in Morgan, Greene, Houston, Lowndes and Macon counties against the operating casinos, machine manufacturers and vendors, and the governmental authorities responsible for licensing and overseeing electronic bingo operations in those counties.

On grounds of ‘legal nuisance’

The lawsuits call upon local circuit courts to prohibit the defendants from promoting, operating and transporting so-called “electronic bingo” machines and slot machines in those counties, because “the illegal gambling they offer presents legal nuisances in the state.”

The state also filed motions requesting that the circuit courts grant preliminary injunctions to cease unlawful gambling operations in these counties while the lawsuits are pending. The Morgan County case is the first that has been set for a hearing on the state’s requested injunctive relief. The order preempted a hearing previously set for Oct. 26.

‘First step forward’

“This is the first step forward in our continued efforts to curtail illegal gambling activity in Alabama,” said Marshall.

“The next step in this case is to push forward at trial before the Circuit Court of Morgan County and present the findings of our investigation in that public forum. We are confident that our prosecution of this case will shed the light on the illegal activities at River City Entertainment and prove the claims we made in our complaint.”

The Alabama Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the game of bingo cannot be played on electronic devices and that machines claiming to be electronic bingo are in fact slot machines and therefore illegal in Alabama, according to Eric Johnston, a Birmingham lawyer who represents Alabama Citizens Action Program and other anti-gambling efforts.

Marshall said his office will continue to work with Anderson and Morgan County law enforcement officials to “make sure that the laws of our state are followed.”