The Michigan Gaming Control Board has stepped up its efforts to put an end to illegal gambling operations in recent years.
This past week, that led to three people being sentenced to jail time, probation and community service for their role in operating an illegal gambling operation. The sentencing puts an end to a 2019 investigation.
The Spin City case and sentencing
The Michigan Department of Attorney General filed charges in mid-2019 over the operation of Spin City.
Spin City, located at G-3490 Miller Road in Flint Township, was deemed to be an illegal gambling operation.
This was deemed after MGCB investigators pursued a report from Flint Township police about suspected illegal gambling at the location.
“The Michigan Gaming Control Board appreciates the support from the Attorney General’s office and police agencies across Michigan in helping to eliminate illegal gambling locations, which target low-income neighborhoods, lack player protections and can lead to other more serious crimes,” said MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams. “These types of illegal gambling locations also deprive K-12 schools of tax funding, which the state charges on legal, regulated gambling.”
All three defendants were sentenced to a day in jail. They will be subject to random drug testing during the probation period they must serve.
The sentencing went as follows:
- Anthony Sutton, 53, of Wilmington, N.C., pleaded guilty to a gambling operations felony charge. He was sentenced to a year of probation, 100 hours of community service and $1,058 in fees and costs. Sutton also forfeited nearly $12,500 in cash to the Flint Township Police Department and 67 computers and games confiscated by the State of Michigan when a search warrant was served on Feb. 27, 2019, and the operation was closed.
- Kara Schilling, 38, of Flint pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of maintaining a gambling house for gain and was sentenced to a year of probation. She also received 50 hours of community service and $1,058 in fees and costs.
- Marjorie Brown, 53, of Flint, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of attempting to maintain a gambling house for gain. She was sentenced to six months of probation, 100 hours of community service and $985 in fees and costs.
Spotting illegal operations and machines
The MGCB spells out what warrants an illegal operation or illegal machines on its website.
For an illegal machine, here are the things to look out for:
- If the player has to pay to play them.
- The outcome of the games are determined primarily by accidental or fortuitous circumstances. That means the player isn’t in control of the result like in an arcade video game.
- The player may be awarded something of value.
- They don’t fall within the parameters of current state law.
Suppliers of gaming machines may try to convince Michigan business owners their games are legal for their non-gambling venue, but that’s often not true.
According to the MGCB, they often claim the games are skill-based, are paid out in gift cards and not cash, or that they are redemption games.
Illegal machines no help for anyone
Regulated gaming machines in Michigan are important because they are required to have portions of their revenue put back into the state.
We’ve looked at the growing tax revenue that the state has generated through retail and online gaming. That tax revenue largely goes back into the schools throughout the state.
For players, these unregulated machines don’t adhere to the requirements for payout percentages either. You can just be giving away your money with no real hope of a return.
If there is a dispute over winnings, the MGCB has no ability to resolve the issue if its on an unregulated machine.
For businesses that utilize these machines, they find themselves prone to more serious criminal activity. That could lead to:
- Loss of liquor license
- Loss of lottery license
- Criminal prosecution
- Monetary fines
How much MGCB has cracked down
We’ve reported recently on some raids and seizures of illegal gaming machines around the state.
To date, Michigan business owners using machines for illegal gambling have been charged with 246 felony and misdemeanor charges.
Thus far, Michigan has had 41 warrants issued for the matter, with more than 1,000 machines seized. Nearly $250,000 in cash has been forfeited to local law enforcement.
To report on an illegal gaming machine that you’ve discovered, call 888-314-2682. For any questions on the topic, contact the MGCB at 313-456-4100.