In Michigan, strict laws and rules govern internet gaming and sports betting and provide consumer protections, promote confidence, and ensure fair and honest gaming. Michigan regulators joined their counterparts from six other iGaming states in urging the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to take tougher action against illegal offshore gaming sites.
In a letter signed by Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) Executive Director Henry Williams and fellow state regulators, AG Merrick Garland was asked to address the issue because state authorities do not have the resources to do so on their own.
Specifically, the states argue that while they have regulatory oversight and enforcement powers in their respective jurisdictions, illegal operators don’t answer to any authority. The states want DOJ to take on a leadership role and take enforcement action against illegal offshore casinos and sportsbooks.
“In Michigan, strict laws and rules govern internet gaming and sports betting and provide consumer protections, promote confidence, and ensure fair and honest gaming,” Williams said.
“We are willing to help the DOJ in any way we can as it pursues enforcement of US laws against offshore illegal gaming enterprises that take advantage of our citizens.”
Gaming regulators from Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Nevada also signed the letter. According to the MGCB, Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) Chairman Kirk Hendrick delivered the letter to Garland on April 28.
The regulators warned the DOJ that illegal offshore gaming sites pose a threat to the US and its citizens. Among their biggest problems are offshore sites:
- Don’t invest in responsible gaming programs
- Have no age verification requirements, so minors are not protected
- There are no controls to prevent money laundering
- Fair payouts to customers are not guaranteed, meaning US citizens have no recourse
- Illegal gaming takes away potential tax revenue from US iGaming states
The coalition of iGaming states said in their letter that offshore sites “do not undergo nor comply with strict licensing requirements imposed on legal, regulated operators,” according to the MGCB. “They also are not subject to the scrutiny of state regulators who conduct thorough suitability and background investigations of regulated operators as required by state laws.”
Unlike their regulated counterparts, illegal operators simply may disappear with their customers’ funds and provide no resources to assist those who may need help. Williams concurred. “State regulators like the MGCB ensure operators offer products that pass technical standards and testing, and we also require operators to comply with reporting requirements.
“Offshore operators flaunt state regulations and offer products that do not protect the public, which greatly concerns me and my fellow state regulators.”
MGCB said the state regulators conveyed to Garland that they are proud of their agencies’ work to protect the public, including enforcing payout requirements and procedures to resolve gaming disputes with players.
“Unlike their regulated counterparts, illegal operators simply may disappear with their customers’ funds and provide no resources to assist those who may need help,” MGCB said, “Regulated operators recognize licensing is a privilege that can be taken away, but illegal operators do not face similar consequences for failure to follow laws and maintain integrity.”
In December 2021, MGCB warned Michiganders about the dangers of playing at offshore gaming sites. The regulator said identity and deposit theft are two of the main reasons why players should stay away.