The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) together with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) and the Michigan Department of Attorney General have started a crusade against illegal gambling in the state. In an attempt to eradicate unregulated gaming machines and stop illegal wagering activities outside licensed casinos, the regulators have developed a strategy aimed at both players and businesses across Michigan.
The MGCB Wants to Educate the Public and Persuade Businesses to Give Up Illegal Gaming
Illegal gambling in Michigan is a serious problem that does not only deprive the state of important tax money but also threatens the safety of local communities given the increased risk of playing at rigged machines.
Gaming machines inside non-gambling establishments like gas stations, restaurants, convenience stores, and bars are not regulated by official authorities in the industry. This means that a lot of players whose financial resources are already limited may discover they have been cheated on and not be able to take any legal action against the respective establishments. This is not the case for legal online wagering platforms that reached record online wagering numbers last October.
Over the past few years, the number of people who have tipped off the authorities concerning illegal gaming machines has been extremely low, with only 78 tips received in 2020 and 92 tips in 2019. While the 2021 numbers are not out yet, data from previous years is not at all reassuring for regulators.
Moreover, the small number of MGCB members instructed to enforce the law on illegal operators is another argument why a new crackdown strategy that would involve the general public is much needed. Besides the active involvement of players, businesses that are still operating these machines on their premises are also asked to pull the plug and stop buying or leasing new machines in the future.
Acknowledging it does not cover the full extent of the problem. The MGCB has also asked for the support of the State Liquor Commission as well as the attorney general office to enforce penalties against illegal operators.
Penalties May Include Fines and Liquor License Revocation
The consequences for continuing to use illegal gaming machines in non-gambling establishments may include fines, felony, or misdemeanor charges, as well as the loss of lottery or liquor licenses. For the time being, regulators have issued close to 246 misdemeanor and felony charges and seized 1,033 illegal gaming machines and almost $250,000 in cash.
The MGCB, together with the MLCC and the Attorney General, is determined to enforce the Michigan law and share crucial information to educate the general public and state businesses. By teaching players and businesses where to find legal establishments, what are the legal consequences of operating illegal gaming machines, and what to do to counteract false or misleading information, the trio hopes to successfully curb illegal forms of gambling. Further encouraging legal gaming, a new Senate bill issued in January will enable Michigan gamblers to deduct losses from taxation.