Michigan Regulators Going After Illegal Gambling Machines

Michigan Gaming Control Board joins the state liquor commission in targeting illegal gambling machines, mostly found in bars.
Michigan Regulators Going After Illegal Gambling Machines
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January 15, 2022

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) have launched a joint education and enforcement campaign for 2022 targeting illegal gambling machines at businesses that aren’t licensed to host them.

“Illegal gambling can lead to other, more serious crimes that compromise safety in Michigan communities,” said MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams.

“Citizens who use these unregulated machines also have little recourse if they feel cheated. They can’t file a formal dispute with an unregulated operator and ask our agency to review the outcome as they can when participating in licensed, legal gaming.”

According to a fact sheet supplied by the MGCB, 41 search warrants have been issued to date, with 1,033 illegal gambling machines seized by authorities. More than $248,518 in cash has been forfeited to local law enforcement, the MGCB said.

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The regulator added that “to date, Michigan business owners using machines for gambling have been charged with 246 felony and misdemeanor charges.”

Across the state, bars and other liquor license holders have been offering illegal gambling opportunities to their patrons for years. Regulators are hoping to put an end to such practices by informing the public of the potential dangers, as well as making sure everyone knows exactly what is legal and what is not.

“Liquor licensees who allow illegal gambling and who fail to remove gambling devices used for illegal gaming from their businesses can face violations from the MLCC,” said the agency’s chair, Pat Gagliardi.

“Illegal gambling is considered a serious violation by the MLCC, and the penalties from a violation can include fines, suspension, or revocation of a liquor license. Liquor licensees are encouraged to utilize only legal forms of gambling to stay compliant with the Commission’s laws and rules.”

Generally speaking, only gambling operators who are issued gaming licenses by the MGCB are allowed to offer gambling in the Wolverine State. That includes the casinos in Detroit.

Machines set up in bars and pubs across the state are operating without a proper license. The MLCC announced that it would be heavily enforcing the penalties against such offenders in the new year.

“Laws that authorize and regulate gaming in the State of Michigan serve to protect consumers who wish to gamble,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

“My office stands ready to assist the MLCC and MGCB in this important enforcement effort. We will not hesitate to hold people accountable if they ignore this opportunity to voluntarily remove illegal gambling machines.”

The campaign against illegal gambling will include a wide variety of educational materials for the general public. It will also work with business operators, who will be informed on exactly what they are allowed to do under their licenses. Businesses that continue to break the law will be penalized.

The MGCB has been taking a stand against illegal gambling in general in recent months, having just recently issued a public warning to all Michigan citizens against playing at unregulated offshore online gambling sites which operate without a license.

Just like unregulated online gambling operators, land-based businesses that offer gambling machines do not guarantee their users any degree of safety or fairness and don’t allow for a proper appeals process in cases where cheating is suspected. For that reason, the MGCB said it will be aggressively informing the public of the dangers of gambling on such machines and will continue to take measures to reduce the number of illegal machines across the state.

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