Bingo Update: U.S. Supreme Court Shuts Down Country Crossings Lawsuit

Once upon a time, Country Crossings issued approximately $29 million in bonds. Those bonds were issued pursuant to a local court ruling validating the use of electronic bingo machines as a means to repay the bonds. Along came former Gov. Bob Riley and his agenda to destroy electronic bingo in Alabama.

The threat of a raid to confiscate the bingo machines forced the closure of Country Crossings. The $29 million in bonds has never been repaid. Country Crossings has become Center Stage Alabama. There appears to be no viable source of revenue with which to repay the bonds. Therefore, bondholder Lord Abbett Municipal Income Fund filed a civil lawsuit in Federal Court against Riley and his Task Force on Illegal Gambling.

Bingo Machines

After a local court validated Country Crossings electronic bingo machines, former Gov. Riley decided to shut down the electronic bingo industry in Alabama. He publicly threated to raid Country Crossings and seize the bingo machines. That prolonged threat forced the closure of the establishment. Further threats of prosecution by the state caused Country Crossings to remain shuttered.

The determination of U.S. District Court Judge Keith Watkins favored Riley and his task force. Watkins ruled that somehow the Country Crossings closure was voluntary. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of the case, reasoning that a governmental entity can begin a forfeiture action without a court hearing if the enterprise is potentially criminal. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the matter. The Court’s refusal creates, as the law of the land, the verdict that any local, state or federal governmental entity can raid any enterprise that it deems illegal, even after a local court rules that it is legal.