Greene County bingo meeting leaves residents, local leaders in the dark

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Gracie Johnson

GREENE COUNTY – The Alabama Supreme Court ruled against bingo halls in two other Alabama counties in September, and Thursday afternoon the subject was brought up in Greene County.

But a preliminary hearing that was supposed to be public wound up as a closed-door meeting, vexing residents and local officials alike.

Local and state elected officials and residents said they were told the meeting was scheduled for 1:30 p.m., but the courtroom door was closed and doors were locked at 1.

“We are very concerned because this is our community,” said Eutaw Mayor Latasha Johnson, who was locked out of the meeting. “And I must say it breaks our heart when issues like this come up and we can’t come together at a reasonable time. We were all told 1:30 and from my understanding, the meeting started at 1.”

The main concern of those left standing outside the courtroom was how the county was going to proceed financially without the revenue from bingo halls if the Alabama Supreme Court rules against Greenetrack in the current lawsuit.

In a separate suit, Greenetrack was deemed responsible for more than $76 million in unpaid taxes and fees to the state.

“We have a constitutional amendment for (electronic bingo),” said Greene County resident Jerry Brown. “We voted for that, and we cannot allow the state of Alabama to take our rights from us.”

Boligee Mayor Hattie Samuels said revenue from bingo halls in Greene County is what funded the town’s new community center. Not to mention, bingo halls are the primary source of employment for many residents.

As the meeting concluded, many people who were inside during the meeting declined to comment on the happenings of the hearing.

But attorney Flint Liddon said he believes if the Attorney General is successful in his ruling, Greene County will go bankrupt.

“It is unfortunate that electronic bingo is OK for the Indians but it is not OK for poor Black folks here in Greene County, and that’s what our Supreme Court has said,” Liddon said.

The topic is scheduled to be reassessed in January.


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