Center Stage court hearing scheduled Wednesday won't happen

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Dothan, AL (WTVY)- A hearing to determine if a lawsuit seeking to shut down bingo at Center Stage Alabama is canceled after attorneys said they don’t want to orally argue the case Wednesday.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, in the suit filed in October, alleges the operation near Dothan violates the state’s ban on slot machines.

Attorneys for Center Stage argue that Marshall lacks jurisdiction in the case and wants Houston County Circuit Judge Kevin Moulton to dismiss the suit.

“The state statute which declared gaming places a common nuisance has been repealed and the Legislature has not replaced it,” argues Ashton Ott, attorney for the Houston County Economic Development Authority. HEDA operates Center Stage.

Marshall disagrees. “Through multiple rulings in recent years, the Alabama Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that electronic bingo and the use of slot machines are illegal in all Alabama counties,” he alleges in a court filing.

Center Stage has both electronic machines and traditional paper bingo though winners awarded prizes must win at the paper version.
Instead of arguing the case this week, attorneys are expected to file briefs with Moulton expected to rule soon.

A future hearing will deal with if the casino should be closed until the lawsuit it resolved.

Marshall is also seeking to close other non-tribal casinos in the state.