Victoryland reopens, warns John Tyson to stay away - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Victoryland reopens, warns John Tyson to stay away

By Alan Collins

SHORTER, AL (WBRC) - Back in business. Victoryland opened again for electronic bingo gaming Friday afternoon, and with a warning to the governor's anti-gambling task force: stay away.

Customers came immediately Friday as soon as they heard it was reopening. The facility had been closed for a month since Gov. Bob
Riley's Illegal Gambling Task Force sought to raid it. Customers were glad to be back.

"Victoryland is for entertainment, strictly entertainment," Claudia Cokerson said.

45 minutes before reopening Friday, Tallapoosa County Judge Tom Young issued a temporary restrainng order barring the task force from raiding Victoryland.

"That order does one thing: it let's the district attorney of Macon County and Sheriff elected by the people carry out their constitutional duty," said Mark White, Victoryland owner Milton McGregor's attorney.

The order says the governor's anti-gambling task force commander, John Tyson, is only authorized to act in Mobile County, where Tyson is District Attorney.

Late Friday afternoon, Tyson issued the following response to the order:

"This order is exactly why the Riley Administration has been fighting corruption for years. This order is a poster child for corruption. It takes us back to a time when a few people were allowed to violate the rights of many. The order is wrong and it is dangerous. It denies the people of Alabama, the protection of the Governor, the Supreme Court, the Legislature, and the rule of law, not to mention the Alabama Department of Public Safety and the Alabama Beverage Control Board. The order was orchestrated to cripple law enforcement in its service to the public until a higher court can correct it. That is why it is extremely dangerous. It attempts to provide protection for all the casinos illegally operating in Alabama. We are not going to stand for it, neither should the people of Alabama.  We are moving to immediately deal with it, and we are going to do that lawfully, just as the task force always has."

Earlier Friday in Birmingham, Gov. Bob Riley said the task force wanted to inspect the machines but was denied access. The governor said he does not believe electronic bingo is legal in Alabama.

"The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled, and if it's illegal to have casinos in 64 counties, it's illegal in 67," Riley said.

But McGregor's attorney said the state high court has yet to rule if  Victoryland's machines are illegal. White says the machines will pass the six guidelines setup by the the Alabama Supreme Court.

"The sheriff, D.A., and independent expert, they are satisfied we are in compliance with the supreme court case," White said.

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