- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2016

SHORTER, Ala. (AP) - VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor announced Monday that he will reopen his casino later this year despite losing a three-year legal battle over the legality of electronic bingo machines the state seized from his business in 2013.

Speaking at a news conference, McGregor said hopes to reopen VictoryLand by early summer after securing agreements with manufacturers for new gambling machines to replace the ones taken by the state.

“Those doors back there are going to open very soon, very soon,” McGregor said, pointing to the casino entrance.

McGregor’s announcement comes after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled last week that electronic gambling machines seized in a 2013 raid were illegal and not what was intended by constitutional amendments allowing bingo in some areas of the state. The court ruled that the state could keep 1,615 gambling machines and more than $200,000 in cash seized from VictoryLand in a 2013 raid.

In the sternly written opinion, the justices wrote that they hoped that would be the “last chapter” in the state’s long-running dispute over the slot machine-look-alikes.

McGregor vowed it would not be the end.

McGregor said it is unfair that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians operate three large casinos with nearly identical machines to the ones at VictoryLand.

“We expect many of the games we will offer to be identical to what is played at the Indian casinos 15 minutes away,” McGregor said.

The tribe is under the jurisdiction of the federal government. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year ruled Alabama did not have the right to bring a lawsuit to try to shut down the tribe’s gambling operations.

Amendments to the Alabama Constitution allow bingo games in some areas of the state. Casino operators have argued the computerized devices play rapid-fire games of bingo and the spinning displays and chimes, which make the games resemble slot machines, are just for the player’s entertainment.

The casino’s planned reopening could set off a new legal battle over the machines. While the state Supreme Court has ruled against the electronic gambling machines, it has taken years for the litigation to wind its way up to the state’s high court.

The attorney general’s office had to go to the state Supreme Court in order to force a local judge to issue a search warrant for the 2013 raid.

The attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on McGregor’s reopening plans.

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