The owner of Victoryland said more than 5,000 people visited his bingo casino Wednesday, the first day it reopened. Milton McGregor said the large crowd showed up despite not opening until 2:00 pm in the middle of the week.
"I was overwhelmed by the support we received," McGregor told WDHN in a telephone interview. "It was good to see the people come out and support us." He said the decision to reopen Wednesday was made just a few hours earlier. He had previously indicated Victoryland would be operational by the end of the month.
The casino closed in 2010 to avoid raid by a state task force appointed by former Governor Bob Riley to rid the state of "illegal slot machines." McGregor and other casino operators contend their machines are electronic bingo mechanisms and not slot machines. They claim the spinning reels are only "window dressing" for bingo games played within the machines.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has hinted he may attempt to raid Victoryland and seize 1,000 or so machines inside. Before shutting down, the bingo casino had around 6,000 of them, more than any Las Vegas casino.
Strange has already seized machines at County Crossing near Dothan and at a gaming center west of Montgomery. The task force authorized by the previous administration was disbanded when Governor Robert Bentley took office in early 2011.
While McGregor and his attorneys likely are figuring out how to keep Strange out of Victoryland, they have no regrets about reopening. "I wanted to get people back to work so they could get a Christmas paycheck," McGregor said. The development is believed to have once employed up to 2,000 workers but that number is far less now.