AG Wants to Remove Judge from VictoryLand Affairs; Casino Still Shut Down

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By Jessica Gertler

From Macon County -- VictoryLand has not allowed anyone inside the casino since it was raided two weeks ago. The dog track area and restaurants remain closed.  But tonight, Alabama News Network takes you inside VictoryLand to show you what is left.

Little remains on the casino floor inside VictoryLand. Machines, money and equipment have all been seized.
 
"There was 1,200 machines, and all the money in here," says Mark Gartland, the general manager at VictoryLand. "It is all gone now and 300 some people are without a job."

Troopers raided the casino last month after Attorney General Luther Strange claimed the gaming machines were illegal. The search warrant was issued by Circuit Judge Tom Young after the state Supreme Court ordered him to sign it.

Young had claimed there wasn't sufficient evidence. But now, Strange wants Young off the case, because he says Young is "biased" and has "prejudged key issues."

"We believe Judge Young is fair, and has been fair," says VictoryLand attorney Joe Espy. "If you look at what he did, it was unanimously upheld by the Criminal Court of Appeals. I mean are they going to look to recuse the Criminal Court of Appeals?"

Espy says along with Young's findings. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board awarded the casino a liquor license saying they could not concluded that the gaming machines at VictoryLand were illegal.

Strange, who was unavailable for an interview and originally, requested the ABC board hearing, released a statement. He says the ABC Board's opinion is "foolish and inconsequential."

"I feel like we were treated fairly," says Espy. "We were treated professionally by the ABC Board, and we believe once we get to court and present our side, we will have a different result."

Young tells Alabama News Network that he is reviewing the recusal and is giving VictoryLand time to respond, and will then make his decision on whether to remove himself or hold a hearing. Young says he can't comment on other matters, but did say the ABC Board's decision is very interesting.

A hearing has been set for March 19 to determine whether the state will keep the machines, equipment and money that was seized.  We have been told Young's decision could affect that date.

No word on when the dog track area and restaurants will open back up.
 



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