State shuts down Southern Star Casino in White Hall

Published 2:28 pm Friday, November 2, 2012

WHITE HALL — The Southern Star Casino, located in White Hall, has been shut down.

Friday, law enforcement agents from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office and the Alabama Department of Public Safety served search warrants on the facility and seized more than 350 machines and an undisclosed amount of cash.

In a press release from Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange’s office, the machines, along with the seized money, will be held as evidence and will be subject to a forfeiture procedure in the Lowndes County Circuit Court.

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“Today’s actions are the culmination of an investigative process over the last several months,” Strange said. “From my first day in office, I have worked to ensure that illegal gambling laws are enforced consistently across the state.”

Last year, machines were removed from the shuttered White Hall Entertainment Center Casino, located just a few hundred feet down U.S. Highway 80 from Southern Star. The Southern Star Casino, however, opened earlier this year with so-called “electronic bingo” machines that state law enforcement agents determined were illegal.

“Until the Alabama Legislature acts to create an effective deterrent for large scale gambling, individuals will continue to engage in illegal gambling activity and openly defy the law,” Strange said. “These individuals stand to make millions of dollars in illegal gambling profits while risking only a slap-on-the-wrist misdemeanor charge.

“The Legislature must change that weakness in our law and create a badly needed deterrent for large scale illegal gambling by increasing the penalty for operating an illegal slot machine casino to a felony,” Strange said.

According to release, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office also participated in Friday’s operation, providing security while the search warrant was being executed.