Gov. Robert Bentley and Attorney General Luther Strange have sent a letter to Macon County Sheriff Andre Brunson and District Attorney E. Paul Jones calling on them to close down VictoryLand.
“It is widely known that VictoryLand began operations on Sept. 13, 2016 and continues as of today’s date to operate electronic bingo machines,” the letter said. “This is a violation of Alabama law.”
Bentley and Strange asked for a response by Sept. 30 with details on their planned enforcement.
More than 3,000 people attended VictoryLand’s reopening on Sept. 13.
The casino was closed in 2013 after a raid by the attorney general’s office seized 1,615 electronic bingo machines, but owner Milton McGregor announced on Aug. 21 VictoryLand was set to reopen.
Gov. Robert Bentley signed an executive order in November 2015 removing the attorney general’s authority to enforce gambling laws and giving it to county sheriffs.
During the opening, McGregor said he wasn’t worried about the state closing the casino.
“(Strange) is through with gaming issues,” McGregor said. “Gaming and the bingo issue will be handled by the sheriff and the DA to determine the legality, and they have done that. Without question, everything on this floor is legal.”
A representative for VictoryLand was not immediately available for comment Thursday.
Macon County Sheriff Andre Brunson said he didn’t have comment about the letter until he spoke with his attorney.
“All I’m trying to do is what’s right for the people of Macon County and enforce the law,” Brunson said.
District Attorney E. Paul Jones said he could not comment on the letter because he had not received it yet.
“My duties do not include the investigation of crimes,” Jones said. “My duty is the prosectution of crimes once they have been investigated and charges made by a law enforcement agency.”
Jones said he’s looked at the law and there’s no requirement for his office to investigate crime, only prosecute crime.
“If a legitimate law enforcement officer makes a case relating to Macon County, then certainly I will prosecute it,” Jones said.
Jones said his office couldn’t afford to raid VictoryLand.
“I am told it cost the state $1 million when it raided VictoryLand (in 2013,)” Jones said.
In 2010, Jones’s budget for the Fifth Judicial Circuit office, which spans Macon, Tallapoosa, Chambers and Randolph counties, was $850,000, but in the 2017 fiscal year his office was $405,000, Jones said.
“There is no way in hell that I could afford to conduct a raid on VictoryLand, even if I wanted to,” Jones said.