VictoryLand raid could leave many people unemployed
SHORTER - AL —
The state's largest casino is once again out of luck. State troopers and people from the Attorney General's Office moved in Tuesday morning to remove the electronic bingo machines.
Now, 160 people could be out of work.
Hundreds of electronic bingo machines were ringing inside VictoryLand Tuesday.
"About ten to eight the loud speaker came on- all employees and customers please exit to the lobby," said BeonCauCia Middleton, a VictoryLand employee who was working when the raid started.
According to Middleton, dozens of state troopers entered telling everyone to remain quiet as they escorted everyone out the door. She knew what was happening.
"I said, 'not again, not again.' Things were going well," she said.
VictoryLand reopened last December following a 2010 shutdown. 12 hundred new machines that used cards, not cash, were installed.
John Kennebrew even opened a nearby convenience store to also cash in.
"Since I opened, I've been losing about a thousand dollars a month to the business to keep it open. Now, we get a slap in the face," he said.
But it's more than jobs.
"Two thousand people who are out of work. I have schools that need the money in order to operate. My city and county governments need to operate," said Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford.
Attorney General Luther Strange deemed the operation illegal after an investigation spanning several months. He said,"the VictoryLand casino was operating in open defiance of the rule of law and we have been left with no alternative."
But without power, the non-gaming areas, like restaurant and hotel, may not reopen.
"They've shut our phones down, our computers, our heater. They are fixing to take our tax records. I don't even know how we are going to pay our people who are due to be paid," said Joe Espy, an attorney for VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor.
Still, the 160 employees are hoping for a call back to work.
"To know all of a sudden, one minute you are there, you are not there," said Middleton.
An injunction was filed to stop the raid.
A hearing will take place March 19 in Macon County Circuit Court to decide what will happen to the machines and cash.
The machines are rented by VictoryLand.