As legal forms of gambling continue to grow in the United States, illegal gambling remains an issue. The American Gaming Association recently conducted a survey and discovered that $510.8 billion is wagered per year through illegal operators. The AGA estimates this is robbing the legal gambling industry of $44.2 billion in revenue and $13.3 billion in potential tax revenue. We recently published an article about this nationwide issue.
Unfortunately Michigan has had run-ins with such issues within our state, with many operators being busted last year for illegal gambling machines, and many online casino websites being used by residents.
What is Considered Illegal Gambling?
Wagering with a sportsbook or casino that is not regulated by a governing body. Illegal bookies and offshore sites, skill machines, are all forms of illegal gambling. Often times, the player wins a considerably higher percentage than you’d experience at a regulated casino since they don’t pay taxes and can pass that savings onto you.
Michigan law prohibits all gambling unless authorized under the state, such as machines operated in licensed casinos, or using an online regulated sportsbook like DraftKings or Caesars.
When you wager on an illegal site or pay illegal casino machines, you have no way to rectify issues that may arise with the owner of the machine.
The MGCB has produced a fact sheet about Michigan law and a separate fact sheet on unregulated machines to better inform businesses about what is legal and what isn’t.
What is Michigan Doing About It?
In 2022, the Michigan Gaming Control Board and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission conducted a statewide public education and enforcement. Recommending businesses remove their unregulated machines.
MLCC chair Pat Gagliardi said, “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 Michigan Liquor Control Commission. Illegal gambling is considered a serious violation by the Commission, and the penalties for 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.”
Coming together, the two state agencies hope to better educate people on illegal gambling and the consequences of illegal gambling to slow down the black market industry in the state of Michigan.
“Illegal gambling machine operations bring unwanted crime to communities across Michigan and deprive school districts of gaming tax revenue from the state to support education,” MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams previously stated. “The MGCB works to educate citizens and businesses about illegal gambling and to support state and local officials’ efforts to remove machines used illegally.”
Williams also added, “Illegal gambling can lead to other, more serious crimes that compromise safety in Michigan communities.”
The partnership between MLCC and MGCB to combat illegal gambling will further empower the State of Michigan to effectively battle ongoing illegal gambling operations. In the past year, MGCB has aided local law enforcement in confiscating over 350 illegal machines and 17 individuals have received convictions based on state investigations.
“With additional education, we hope business owners will do the right thing and not offer illegal gaming in their establishments,” Williams said. “However, we are prepared to enforce Michigan law and take action against those who violate it.”
Help Put a Stop to Illegal Gambling
“The Michigan Gaming Control Board exists to ensure the conduct of fair and honest gaming to protect the interest of citizens in the State of Michigan”
The MGCB encourages the public to report illegal or suspected illegal gambling activity through the agency’s anonymous tip phone line, 1-888-314-2682.
Mac Daniel is a Michigan native and freelance writer for PlayOnlineCasino and PlayOnlineSportsBetting. He has experience writing about a wide variety of topics, including healthcare, tourism, non-profit organizations, and most recently casino and sportsbetting news. To check out more of his work, visit: playonlinemichigan.com