Illegal gaming is a widespread problem that is not unique to Michigan, but we are prepared to act and will hold bad actors accountable who are caught breaking the law. Michigan regulators met recently with representatives from Flint to discuss ways they can work together to combat illegal gaming activities in the state’s 15th most populous city.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) said its Executive Director, Henry Wiliams, met with Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley and state Rep. Cynthia Neeley (D-Flint) late last month. They discussed how illegal storefront casinos had not only become a nuisance for the city but negatively impacted the state’s reputation for regulated, legitimate gaming — an industry that generated $1.6 billion in online poker and casino revenue in 2022.
“As a regulator, it’s important to me to have face-to-face conversations with area leaders so that we can share our knowledge and gain a more comprehensive understanding of illegal gaming issues, especially from their local perspective,” Williams said in a statement Friday. He met with Mayor Neeley and Rep. Neeley, who are husband and wife, on August 29.
“I look forward to working with Mayor Neeley on the city’s efforts to prevent individuals from reopening a place of business under a new name in a location that was previously cited for illegal gaming operation concerns, minimize risks to his community from such establishments, and help protect Flint residents from harm.”
Williams’ meeting with Flint officials came one week after investigators seized 50 gambling devices and more than $13,000 in suspected gaming proceeds from an alleged storefront casino in the city.
Officers with the Michigan State Police, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, and the Flint Police Department. The same location was also raided in an illegal gambling investigation in August 2022.
“It is important to protect the Flint community from predatory illegal gaming operations,” Mayor Neeley said. “These unwelcome operations threaten public safety by creating environments where other criminal activity can thrive.”
Rep. Neeley concurred. “By working together to implement comprehensive measures — from strengthening laws and regulatory frameworks to raising awareness about the issue of illegal gaming machines — we can help reduce the prevalence of illegal gaming in our communities.” She pledged to do what she could “to help advance any necessary changes to the law in my capacity serving with the Michigan Legislature.”
According to the MGCB, its investigations into illegal gaming activities between January 2015 and July 2023 led to the seizure of 1,195 illegal machines and more than $470,000 in suspected gaming proceeds. The regulator added that since November 2022, 48 locations across the state have received cease-and-desist letters involving 105 illegal machines.
Under Michigan’s gaming law, any form of wagering that the MGCB does not regulate is considered illegal.
“Illegal gaming is a widespread problem that is not unique to Michigan, but we are prepared to act and will hold bad actors accountable who are caught breaking the law,” Williams said.
He added that the MGCB “is committed to fighting illegal online gaming, pop-up illegal casinos, and the proliferation of illegal gaming machines in gas stations, bars, and other locally owned establishments — and I look forward to seeing what the Michigan Legislature can do to help us with these issues.”