Police in West Alabama raided and closed Palace Bingo in Knoxville Wednesday over their alleged "fragrant and ongoing" violation of law that allows bingo halls to operate there.

The raid began before dawn, sometime around 4 a.m. Wednesday, and police had all patrons of the bingo hall stop what they were doing and leave as Greene County sheriff's deputies facilitated the venue's immediate closure.

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In a statement, Sheriff Jonathan "Joe" Benison said Amendment 743 of the state constitution sets strict rules governing the operation of bingo halls, including limits on the amount that can be awarded during the play of bingo in Greene County.

That total is not legally allowed to exceed $10,000, but Benison says despite repeated notice, Palace Bingo continued to advertise and award prizes that exceeded legal limits.

The operation was shut down entirely, and Benison said he is open to beginning a conversation to discuss conditions for reopening.

The sheriff said his ongoing goal is to see bingo halls stay open in Greene County, but that will require everyone to follow the rules set by state law.

"Critics have done what critics do. They criticize. While I am aggressively working to preserve the future of bingo in my County, they are throwing stones," Benison said in a statement. "Somebody once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. The insanity is over. Our actions in court and at Palace Bingo represent the surest path to protecting bingo and the economic investment it was designed to bring to our County."

Top Stories from the Tuscaloosa Thread (11/6 - 11/13)

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Gallery Credit: (Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)