Bingo hall under investigation in east Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Investigators with the Alabama Bureau of Investigations seized hundreds of gaming machines from an east Birmingham bingo hall Monday morning. They started wheeling the machines up at 6:00 the VFW Post 8432 around 6:00 a.m.  Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls said the operation did not appear to be a charity bingo operation but rather a casino operation.  Falls said first requested an investigation of the bingo hall about a month ago.  He says the investigation showed enough probable cause to seize the machines and have them tested for legality.  But when he was asked why he thinks there illegal, Falls responded, "That's what we're going to talk about when we get to court."

But an employee of the hall, who asked not to be identified said he was shocked by Monday's activity especially considering the hall's management welcomed investigators, thinking the machines were legal.  "We do nothing illegal or immoral at this establishment," the man replied.  He says his biggest concern now is the halls 200 employees.  "They have families and homes and I am saddened for them because now they're without a means of income."

Several patrons complained as the machines were loaded up.  That included Karen Lott who says she played at the hall just last week.  "We've got to have some sort of entertainment in Alabama," Lott said.  "And that was clean entertainment."   But Richard Rutledge, president of the South Roebuck neighborhood says the seizures are long overdue.  "If we're going to have gambling, we needed to legalize it, regulate it and do it right," Rutledge said.

D-A Falls says there were no arrests in connection with Monday's search warrant.  But he says arrests may come later.