- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Crooked I Sports Bar and Grill shut down its 105 electronic bingo machines after an Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge denied the request for a preliminary injunction against the state of Maryland. The business’ temporary restraining order against the state, which allowed the machines to operate legally past July 1, expired Thursday.
The bar and grill receives about 95 percent of its revenue from its electronic bingo machines, according to the lawsuit.
A new state law, passed during the 2012 Maryland legislative session, made electronic bingo machines, the type Crooked I operates, illegal as of July 1.
CCI Entertainment LLC — which does business as Crooked I Sports Bar and Grill — was granted a temporary restraining order July 1 from Anne Arundel County Circuit Court against Maryland to enjoin the state from taking any action against CCI and its owners for the operation of its electronic bingo machines.
CCI and its owners also filed a lawsuit in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court against Maryland and the government agents responsible for enforcing the new law.
Crooked I’s attorney Ronald H. Jarashow said “the judge should have issued the preliminary injunction” and that he and his clients believe the judge didn’t look at all the evidence.
The electronic bingo machines have been placed in storage under a granted license to do so, because under the new law, anyone owning and/or possessing the illegal machines could face criminal charges.
Jarashow said his clients are taking the issue to “a full trial after putting all the evidence together,” including depositions of all parties involved and subpoenaed documents.
Judge Philip T. Caroom wrote the opinion explaining the denial of the preliminary injunction based on six arguments derived from CCI’s lawsuit:
1) Can CCI satisfy the factors required for the issuance of an injunction? The court ruled that three of the four requirements are met, but that “likelihood of success” could not be satisfied, according to court documents.
2) Did CCI prove “likelihood of success on the merits” as one of the factors required? and, 3) To determine the likelihood, what is the legislative intent and meaning of the new bill regarding the terms “instant bingo” and “handheld device?” Based on testimony and the in-court admission of one of the CCI owners that CCI machines are “not instant bingo” machines, the court ruled that it “cannot find that CCI’s electronic bingo machines are “instant bingo,” thus CCI machines cannot be exempted under the new bill as instant bingo, according to the ruling.
4) Is there another exemption under Maryland Criminal Code 12-308 available to save Crooked I’s operation? The court found that CCI machines don’t fall under the bill’s exemption of “instant bingo” and they do not meet the established operation date of Feb. 28, 2009, because CCI didn’t have its operation or license until June 19, 2008.
5) Is the new bill a “special law” prohibited by the Maryland Constitution and the Equal Protection Act of the U.S. Constitution? The court found, based on legislative history of gambling bills and “special law,” the new bill “was designed to accomplish legitimate legislative purposes and that its harsh, but incidental, impact on CCI does not constitute a violation of” Maryland’s prohibited “special law.”
6) Does the bill violate due process clause, ex post facto laws, prohibition against state-granted monopolies and principles of “void for vagueness?” The court established that a statute doesn’t need to define every term if the terms’ meanings can be “understood by plain meaning or available references.”
As to the other violations, the court sided with the state.