MGCB, Flint Officials Meet To Address Illegal Gambling Concerns In Area

Written By Drew Ellis on September 18, 2023
Flint, Michigan with text: Flint tackling illegal gambling

The Michigan Gaming Control Board remains committed to ending illegal gambling in the state.

Late last month, MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams met with Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley and State Rep. Cynthia Neeley. The goal of the meeting was to discuss strategies to help deter illegal gaming operations in Flint.

The Flint area has seen multiple raids for illegal gambling in the last year alone, despite legal gaming options in Detroit casinos and via Michigan online casinos.

(from left) Sheldon Neeley, Henry Williams and Cynthia Neeley.

Flint area been a focus for MGCB

The conversation between Williams and the Neelys was held on Aug. 29.

A focus was put on the impact that storefront casinos and illegal gaming can have on the local community.

“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 press release.

“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.”

Just prior to the meeting, the MGCB and state investigators raided an alleged illegal gambling operation in Flint. A total of 50 computers and gaming machines were seized, along with over $13,000 in suspected proceeds.

The seizure took place at the same location that a similar raid was held one year prior.

“It is important to protect the Flint community from predatory illegal gaming operations, and I thank Director Williams for his continued partnership in this effort,” Mayor Neeley said. “These unwelcome operations threaten public safety by creating environments where other criminal activity can thrive.”

“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. I look forward to continuing this conversation with MGCB Executive Director Williams and appreciate the time he took to visit Flint and discuss this important issue, and I will do what I can to help advance any necessary changes to the law in my capacity serving with the Michigan Legislature.”

In April of 2022, a pair of raids took place in the Flint area, leading to nearly $30,000 and 100 gambling devices being taken.

Last February, former Flint police chief William Bradford Barksdale pleaded no contest to charges related to illegal gambling back in 2017.

MGCB has seized thousands of machines since 2015

The MGCB has been active in its efforts to put an end to storefront casinos and illegal gambling machines.

Since January of 2015 to July of 2023, a total of 1,195 illegal machines and $470,401.98 have been seized in raids by the MGCB and state investigators.

Since November of 2022, 48 locations have received cease and desist letters.

The Michigan Penal Code broadly prohibits any kind of gambling except for what is authorized by law. Potential consequences for Michigan businesses operating illegal gaming machines including criminal charges and/or monetary fines.

“Storefront casinos and illegal gambling pose significant risks to communities, both socially and economically,” Williams said. “Since they can often attract criminal activity and draw customers away from legitimate businesses that positively contribute to the local economy, it is essential that these types of operations get shut down to prevent customers from falling prey to fraudulent schemes and protect them from potential harm.”

Residents in the state are encouraged to report illegal or suspicious gambling activity in their area. They can do so anonymously by calling the 24-hour tipline at 1-888-314-2682.

Written tips can be done anonymously on the MGCB website. You can find an online form located under the “Report Illegal or Suspicious Gambling Activity” link of the Resources section on the homepage.

You can also send an email to [email protected], but that will not be an anonymous approach due to using a registered email address.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is currently the Lead Writer of PlayILottery.com. He was the former Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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