Three Alabama Casinos Facing Public Nuisance Suits

  • The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that two county courts were incorrect for dismissing lawsuits
  • The Defendants claimed that local courts did not have sufficient power to hear the cases
  • Poarch Band of Creek Indians-operated Wind Creek casinos were not part of the suits
  • Some Alabama counties permit bingo machines, but the state argues these are illegal slots
Lady Justice in front of the American flag
Three Alabama casinos are facing public nuisance suits after an Alabama Supreme Court decision allowed the state to proceed with legal action against them. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Progressing lawsuits

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the courts in two rural counties were incorrect for dismissing lawsuits filed by the state aimed at having three casinos declared public nuisances. 

As a result of the Supreme Court decision, the state can proceed with its cases against VictoryLand in Macon County and the cases against Southern Star Entertainment and White Hall Entertainment in Lowndes County. 

have flagrantly violated Alabama’s laws.”

Attorney General Steve Marshall and his office are looking for injunctions to permanently shut down the three casinos. In a statement, Marshall said “For too long, these individuals, businesses, and even elected officials have flagrantly violated Alabama’s laws.”

A VictoryLand attorney commented on the Supreme Court decision, noting that while the state will have a chance to prove its case, the casino will not be making any immediate changes to its operations.

Defendants’ arguments

The defendants were calling for the suits to be dismissed, saying that the state courts did not possess the power needed to hear them. The defendants also claimed that the state’s shutdown attempts were wrong because the Poarch Band of Creek Indians-operated Wind Creek casinos were not included among the lawsuits. 

County judges ruled in favor of the casinos last year, dismissing the lawsuits in Macon County and Lowndes County. 

However, the Supreme Court rejected the idea that the tribe should be included and deemed the local circuit courts as having sufficient power to hear the cases.

Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justice Kelli Wise deemed that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians is not an “indispensable party” in the dispute and there was no need for its inclusion as part of the complaints. In a separate opinion, Justice Brady Mendheim detailed how a federal court had previously prevented the state from filing any sort of public nuisance claims against the tribe’s gaming operations.

Basis for shutdown attempts

The state has been persistent in trying to shut down gambling halls that have electronic bingo games. The lawsuits against the three casinos were originally filed in 2017, calling on the courts to declare these casinos public nuisances as a result of their promotion of illegal gambling. 

slot machines do not adhere to the same legal definition as bingo

Certain counties have approved constitutional amendments for bingo, leading to the electronic bingo casinos. The state, however, considers these bingo machines to operate and look like slot machines; slot machines do not adhere to the same legal definition as bingo.

Alabama is traditionally a very conservative state when it comes to gambling. It is one of only a handful of states that does not currently have a state lottery.