A judge in Montgomery, Alabama, ruled this week to have seized illegal slot machines destroyed rather than giving them back to the companies that made them, after the makers said that they did not want the machines, which were first taken in March 2009 from the White Hall Entertainment Centre. Judge Bob Vance did however stop short of calling them slot machines, settling for gambling machines instead in order to avoid issues that could arise in other states thanks to his ruling.
The casino had advertised the games as electronic bingo, which would have been legal, but former Governor Bob Riley and the state Attorney General Luther Strange called them illegal, seizing the slot machine games from White Hall before also going on to raid similar operations at VictoryLand in Shorter and Country Crossing in Dothan. Strange had wanted the machines to be destroyed and ruled illegal slot machines, but against him were the manufacturers (four in total – American Gaming Systems, Eclipse Gaming, Bally Gaming, and Nova Gaming) who wanted to forfeit the machines and willingly have them destroyed in exchange for avoiding a ruling on whether or not they were legal. This was to avoid any consequences elsewhere, as they suggested that they might be punished by regulatory boards in other states for having operated illegal games in Alabama. Ultimately, Vance sided with the manufacturers thanks to their cooperation.
“The court will not concern itself with the nuances of this final order, or about the consequences in other proceedings that may be pending in other jurisdictions,” Vance wrote. “The slot machine manufacturers’ willingness to consent to this forfeiture judgment should end this controversy once and for all, not only in Lowndes County, but throughout the state,” Strange added, hoping that this will signal the end of illegal gambling in Alabama and that the ruling will also discourage other businesses from trying to get away with illegal machines on their property. Sixty five machines owned by Multimedia Games Inc were already destroyed in August as part of an agreement which was reached then from the one hundred total machines seized.