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DAs to seek shutdown of adult arcades

BIRMINGHAM (AP)— District attorneys statewide plan to use a recent Supreme Court decision outlawing a type of video gaming machine at Birmingham's dog track to shut down adult arcades and casino-like operations across Alabama, a key prosecutor said Tuesday.

The ruling, which overturned a lower court order that allowed so-called "sweepstakes" machines operated by Birmingham Race Course owner Milton McGregor, means that nearly any type of video gambling is illegal, Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber said in an interview.

Barber said he is giving video gaming halls around Birmingham until Jan. 30 to shut down because that's the day the court's ruling becomes final, and he expects many other local prosecutors to do the same.

"Every DA in the state is pretty much on the same page. We're going to consider anything that might be considered a gambling device to be a gambling device," said Barber, whose office was involved in the case that led to the decision against McGregor's operation.

He said the issue was a major topic of discussion among district attorneys attending a statewide conference in Birmingham on Tuesday.

McGregor denied that the Supreme Court ruling extended to anything other than sweepstakes machines.

"It's not that broad. They're only addressing the sweepstakes," he said. "Barber's playing games and he needs to go back to law school."


McGregor's comments came as the state attorney general's office sent letters to hundreds of sheriffs and police chiefs explaining the action by the Supreme Court. Last Friday it refused to reconsider a December decision in which it said the sweepstakes machines operated at the Race Course violated state gambling laws.

Deputy Attorney General Kenneth Steely said he had received calls from all over the state asking whether certain types of machines were legal, but "it's up to the locals" to enforce the law.

"The letter is to give them guidance about what the court's ruling said," Steely said.

At Leisure Time Arcade in Adamsville, attendant Chris Nation collected money from a lunchtime crowd of a half-dozen people who were playing video machines allowed under a past ruling by a Jefferson County judge. In their midst, more than two dozen sweepstakes-style machines sat unplugged, their screens blank.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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