Potential closure of entertainment centers looms over the 45 – Lowndes signal

Possible closure of entertainment centers looms beyond April 45

Published 4:22 p.m. Friday 4 November 2022

The 2021 United States Census Bureau reported 109 establishments employing residents of Lowndes County.

Now district leaders and citizens are waiting to know if they will lose two of those employers, while attorneys and court officials grapple with the fate of three Alabama gambling establishments.

White Hall Entertainment and Southern Star Entertainment provide jobs for Lowndes County citizens, and according to Commissioner Charlie King, Jr., they also support communities in other ways.

“They have been very diligent in making donations to towns and nonprofits across the county to help them do their jobs,” King said. “They have donated to cities like Gordonville and Mosses and employ about 100 people in the area.”

And while some view gaming operations as community partners, others say they have a negative impact on local families.

“We don’t want people to lose their jobs,” said James Greene, pastor of Lowndesboro Baptist Church. “But gambling has an impact. You’re not going to win at this.”

On September 30, the Alabama Supreme Court unanimously ruled in State v. Epic Tech, LLC. out in which he ruled that the so-called “electronic bingo” offered at Southern Star, White Hall and Victoryland is in fact a form of illegal gambling known as “video slot gambling”.

“The Alabama Supreme Court ruling clarifies what my office has maintained from the outset: These gaming establishments are not only manifestly illegal under Alabama law, but also a threat to public health, morals, safety and welfare,” said Attorney General Steve Marshall in a recent press release.

Representatives from Southern Star and White Hall declined to comment, but residents happy to spend time at the facilities hope they stay open.

“It would be bad [if it closes]’ explained local resident Lois Timmons. “This would eliminate many jobs”

But according to Greg Davis, president and CEO of the Alabama Citizens Action Program, gambling, like other addictive behaviors, preys on individuals and families.

“Gambling is a well-known addictive behavior and it’s also predatory at the same time,” Davis explained. “Gambling violates basic Christian morality and ruins lives and families and harms society. Any time we can block access, that is positive and will make this community safer and more prosperous.”

David Edwards travels from Selma to play keno at the White Hall.

“It gives me time to relax and have coffee,” Edwards said. “There’s no point in closing it.”

Commissioner Robert Harris said the county cannot afford to lose the entertainment centers.

“We welcome the casinos in our county for a variety of reasons,” Harris said. “One is for employment opportunities. Another is recreational activities for our elderly. The residents they employ bring money back to the county. Closing casinos would affect us economically and affect the ability of these individuals to provide decent homes for their families.”

The Supreme Court ordered lower courts to issue injunctions banning the establishments from offering electronic bingo machines within 30 days.

No injunctions have been filed to date.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported Sunday that the gaming center’s attorneys filed a request for a rehearing with the Supreme Court on Oct. 14, but the court has not yet responded on whether the request will be granted.

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