Gambling Machines No Easy Takedown

Say “so long” to the electronic gambling machines from Center Stage casino in Houston County.

Judge Michael Conaway, describing the machines as “nothing more than illegal gambling cloaked in a ‘Bingo’ costume, ” ruled that the machines were illegal and should be destroyed. Cash totaling more than $288, 000, taken from the now closed casino in the same raid last year will be forfeited to the state general fund, the judge ruled.

Although Attorney General Luther Strange won the case and said he hopes it will be a warning to others who “openly defy the law, ” he called for a change in state law to make “operating an illegal slot machine casino” a felony with more stringent penalties.

Meanwhile, the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians installed 50 similar machines in the Choctaw Entertainment Center about 25 miles north of Mobile, the Press-Register reported. And the Mobile County sheriff stepped in after just a few days to seize the machines.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians have several casinos in the state — including their biggest to date getting ready to open in Wetumpka in December — claiming an exemption from state anti-gambling laws because their casinos are on federally recognized tribal land — although Strange is also challenging that exemption.

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Unlike the Poarch Band, the MOWA band is not a federally recognized tribe.

Text by Nedra Bloom

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