Judge sets hearing on allowing Macon casino raid

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, August 4, 2010

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Gov. Bob Riley’s task force on gambling is prepared to raid the Victoryland casino in Macon County promptly if a judge lifts a ban on a raid at a hearing Thursday, the task force commander said.

But attorneys for Macon County officials on Tuesday were trying to decide if they should take steps to keep the task force sidelined a bit longer.

Task force commander John Tyson said that if Circuit Judge Tom Young lifts his earlier injunction against a raid, state police were ready to enter the casino at Shorter in Macon County and confiscate the more than 6,000 electronic bingo machines.

“We’ve been ready since the last time we were out there,” Tyson said.

In January, the task force attempted to raid Victoryland but was blocked by an order from Young, whose jurisdiction includes Macon and several other east Alabama counties.

Young on Tuesday afternoon set a hearing Thursday to consider a motion by Tyson to dissolve the order blocking any confiscation of the machines.

The task force considers them illegal slot machines.

Young’s latest order came in a lawsuit filed by Macon County District Attorney E. Paul Jones, Sheriff David Warren and other county officials who contend Tyson, the district attorney in Mobile County, doesn’t have authority to conduct the raid in Macon County without the permission of local officials.

Tyson contends a Supreme Court ruling last week overruled Young’s order blocking the task force from raiding Victoryland without permission from local officials. Under court rules, Macon County officials have up to 18 days to ask the Alabama Supreme Court for a rehearing.

James Anderson, a Montgomery lawyer who represents the sheriff, said he may ask Young to wait until the end of the 18 days to dissolve his injunction to keep Victoryland’s employees working for a few more weeks.

“Let’s don’t shut down jobs especially this week with kids starting back to school,” Anderson said.

But Tyson has asked Young to immediately dissolve the injunction, which he said in court papers filed Monday was the only thing that was allowing Victoryland to continue “openly running illegal slot machines under the guise of electronic bingo.”