DECATUR, Ala. — A north Alabama business must close until a judge rules on a lawsuit claiming it operates illegal gambling machines, a decision the state cited Thursday as a move toward ending illegal games.
A court order filed late Wednesday said River City Entertainment in Lacey Springs and the state had reached an agreement while a judge considers claims that the business operates illegal electronic gambling machines.
Under the order by Morgan County Circuit Judge Steven Haddock, the business must stay closed until a hearing or a decision on whether the machines are legal. No hearing date was set.
Attorney General Steve Marshall called the order a step toward ending illegal gambling in Alabama.
“We are confident that our prosecution of this case will shed the light on the illegal activities at River City Entertainment and prove the claims we made in our complaint,” Marshall said in a statement.
An attorney representing River City Entertainment didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment Thursday. Company officials have denied doing anything illegal.
The state sued River City Entertainment and several other establishments earlier this month. Targeting operations in five counties, the lawsuits were the latest shot in the state’s long-running legal battle over slot machine-lookalikes with displays that make them appear nearly identical to games at Las Vegas casinos and other places.
Alabama law forbids casino games including slot machines but allows bingo in some counties. Casino operators have argued their computerized machines legally play rapid-fire electronic bingo, and the displays and chimes are only for ambiance.
Casino representatives said the lawsuits threaten the jobs of the hundreds of people who work at the gambling establishments while the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which offer similar games, remain under no threat of closure.