Judge allows White Hall Entertainment Center to open

Published 10:55 am Monday, March 30, 2009

A judge has ruled that the White Hall gambling center can reopen without the threat of another raid by the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling.

Retired Alabama Supreme Court Justice Mark Kennedy ruled Saturday that the task force and state police must return more than 100 machines to the gambling center that were seized on March 19.

The judge also ruled that as long as Cornerstone Community Outreach Inc. operates in a manner consistent with its operation prior to March, the state agents are not to interfere with the operation of the gambling center.

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Kennedy said it was the court’s opinion “that there are significant legal issues on the legality of both the issuance and the execution of the search warrant in this case.”

The ruling allows the gambling hall 20 miles west of Montgomery to reopen. Cornerstone attorney Bobby Segall said Saturday that would take a few days because workers will have to reinstall computer servers taken in the raid.

Jeff Emerson, communications director for Gov. Bob Riley, said in a press release Saturday that the judge’s decision was not a final order, only a preliminary injunction.

“We also believe his decision is fundamentally flawed and will be reversed on appeal because the Alabama Supreme Court has already ruled that slot machines are illegal in every county of Alabama,” the release said.

The task force and state police raided the White Hall gambling center March 19. Task force director David Barber said he suspected the center was operating illegal slot machines, but center officials said they were operating legal electronic bingo machines.

Kennedy was appointed to hear the case by the Alabama Supreme Court after all judges in Lowndes County stepped aside from hearing it. The next step is for a court to determine whether the machines were legal or illegal.