Alabama’s White Hall Entertainment Resort Shuttered in Raid by State
Posted on: December 1, 2023, 12:37h.
Last updated on: December 1, 2023, 12:55h.
Alabama’s Attorney General’s office spearheaded a raid on White Hall Entertainment Resort and Casino in Lowndes County Wednesday as part of a targeted crackdown on illegal gambling.
The casino is one of dozens of gaming establishments that have been allowed to operate by sheriffs and local officials in defiance of an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that electronic bingo machines are illegal, Alabama Today reports.
State Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) confirmed the operation on Wednesday. He said state officials executed a temporary restraining order (TRO) against White Hall to halt its operations.
The TRO was accompanied by a search warrant authorizing law enforcement to conduct a thorough raid on the premises. This turned up 600 illegal machines, according to the AG’s Office.
White Hall Assets Frozen
The casino was forcibly closed and sealed, while assets associated with multiple linked entities were frozen, Marshall said in a news release. Financial transactions related to the casino were also prohibited pending further directives from the Circuit Court of Lowndes County.
Today’s operations reflect the ongoing enforcement of previous orders issued by the Alabama Supreme Court for Lowndes County,” Marshall said. “The individuals, building owners, and operators of these illegal machines acted in defiance of the law, local court orders, and Supreme Court of our state. Rackets such as these will not be tolerated in Lowndes County or elsewhere in Alabama.”
Marshall has previously called electronic bingo a “menace to public health, morals, safety, and welfare.”
Speaking to WSFA12 News, State Sen. Robert Stewart (D-Dist. 23), who represents Lowndes County, expressed concern about the timing of the shutdown.
“This raid could not have happened at a more inopportune time. I am gravely concerned about the workers during this holiday season,” he said. “I am hoping all parties involved can come to a consensus to keep White Hall open.”
The White Hall casino has a history of legal skirmishes and prior closures. Marshall sued the property, along with Victoryland in Shorter and Southern Star Entertainment Center in Hayneville, arguing that the venues’ machines violated the state constitution, which prohibits most forms of commercial gaming.
The lower court sided with the casinos because local voters had approved electronic bingo during referendums held in 2003.
In a 9-0 decision in September, the Alabama Supreme Court determined that the electronic bingo machines were illegal. They were given until Jan. 15, 2023, to shut them down.
The operators have appealed to the Alabama Legislature in an attempt to negotiate a constitutional amendment that would grant select entities, including White Hall, legal operational status while freezing out other businesses from the market.
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