BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CN) - Hundreds of customers say an Alabama casino and dog racing track rigged bingo machines and used them to pay off politicians. They claim former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford, awaiting sentencing for felony corruption, a "longtime friend and political ally" of the casino owner, won more than 550 jackpots for more than $1.6 million over 4 years, and "was escorted by employees" to the machines where he won his money.
Macon County Greyhound Park dba Victoryland and Quincy's 777 grossed more than $1 billion in 4 years but "paid crumbs" to the 60 charities that actually held the bingo licenses, according to the federal complaint.
The Alabama Constitution allows bingo only in connection with "charitable, educational or other lawful purposes" and the nonprofit organizations holding the bingo licenses must "benefit substantially" from the operations, the complaint states.
The lead defendants in the racketeering lawsuit are Macon County Greyhound Park dba Victoryland casino and Quincy's 777, and the Greyhound Park's president and COO Milton McGregor. The Greyhound Park and casinos are in Shorter, Ala., in Macon County.
The roughly 850 plaintiffs say the bingo games at the racetrack are actually illegal slot machines, and do not primarily benefit the charities they claim to. They claim the defendants "rigged" and "manipulated" the machines to benefit certain politicians, who promoted approval of electronic bingo.
The 60 charities "were aggregately paid approximately $2.2 million for the operation of bingo games," while the Greyhound Park and McGregor got revenue "in the hundreds of millions of dollars," according to the complaint.
"The operation of electronic bingo games by the defendants have been manipulated and the machines have been programmed or rigged in such a way as to substantially benefit and profit certain politicians, including the former mayor of Birmingham, Larry Langford, a convicted felon," the complaint states.
Langford won as many as 10 jackpots a night, according to the complaint.
Langford is mentioned prominently in the complaint, but not named as a defendant. He was a Jefferson County commissioner before he became mayor of Birmingham.
Describing Langford as "a longtime friend and political ally of the defendant McGregor," and "a frequent patron of MCGP's Victoryland and Quincy's 777 casino," the plaintiffs say Langford won more than $1.6 million at the casino from 2006 to 2009.
According to the complaint, Langford won 57 jackpots in 2006 for $300,000; 189 jackpots in 2007 for $500,000; 302 jackpots in 2008 for $729,350; and more jackpots in 2009, for $100,000.
The complaint adds: "Langford was escorted by employees of MCGP with the knowledge and participation of the defendant McGregor to specific electronic bingo devices where Langford, upon playing said devices, won the aforementioned substantial sums as jackpots."
In contrast to the lucky Langford, the plaintiffs say they lost "millions of dollars" playing electronic bingo in the past year. They want their money back, claiming the bingo devices are "slot machines," which are illegal in Alabama.
Named as defendants are Macon County Greyhound Park dba Victoryland and Quincy's 777, Milton McGregor, and its suppliers of bingo machines, Multimedia Games, IGT, Cadillac Jack Inc., Colossus Inc., Rocket Gaming Systems LLC, Nova Gaming LLC and Bally Gaming.
The plaintiffs are represented by Ted Mann with Mann, Cower & Potter of Birmingham.