Alabama Supreme Court: State can seize gambling machines

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama Supreme Court has reversed a lower court and says the state can seize more than 800 electronic bingo machines from a west Alabama gambling hall.

The unanimous decision released Friday involves the Greenetrack gambling facility, located in Greene County southwest of Birmingham.

The justices say that 825 machines confiscated from Greenetrack amount to illegal slot machines under state law.

The justices rejected arguments that the machines are legal under laws that regulate bingo games. And they cited a previous ruling which said it's time to enforce Alabama laws against electronic gambling machines.

"Because the ‘contracts' containing the arbitration provisions in these cases were based on gambling consideration, they were based solely on criminal conduct, and are therefore void. Consequently, the provisions of those ‘contracts,' including arbitration provisions are void and unenforceable," the Supreme Court ruled.

The decision overturns a lower court ruling which ordered the state to return gaming machines seized in 2010. That judge said the machines complied with a local constitutional amendment authorizing electronic bingo machines in Greene County.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange issued the following statement after the ruling:

Local sheriffs and police officers in most parts of the State are enforcing our gambling laws.  The sheriffs in Greene and Macon counties must uphold their sworn duty to enforce the law as interpreted by the Supreme Court and not continue to sanction this illegal activity.  As I have previously stated, my office stands ready to render any required assistance to enable them to carry out their legal duties."

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