MGCB Targeted Illegal Casino Games in 2023, Removed 167 Machines

Written By Matthew Lomon on April 3, 2024
Three slot machines covered in yellow caution tape that reads

The Michigan Gaming Control Board is not taking illegal gambling lightly.

The regulator of Michigan’s bustling wagering industry has worked tirelessly to thwart the threats posed by unregulated gambling. In particular, the MGCB has made a concerted effort to identify and remove casino-style gambling machines from businesses for the purpose of dismantling illicit operations.

Casino-style machines have emerged as a “pressing concern,” according to the MGCB. The organization specifically mentioned the potential that these prohibited games possess in undermining the significant investments of legitimate Michigan casinos.

Consumers are also at an increased risk with unlawful gambling machines. More often than not, the machines lack the necessary game integrity and player protection safeguards that regulated, licensed establishments offer. As a result, players are more susceptible to unfair practices.

Over the past year, however, the regulator has cracked down on illegal betting operations through shutdowns, seizures, and legal action. On Apr. 3, the MGCB revealed exactly how much progress it’s made.

167 illegal gambling machines removed from circulation in 2023

Last year of cleansing for the MGCB. In a recent release, the regulator said in 2023 it sent letters to 64 businesses around the state demanding they cease their illegal gambling activities immediately. This ultimately led to the removal of 167 illicit wagering devices.

A move on the physical machines was merely the beginning. The MGCB also made “substantial progress” in confiscating and liquidating assets connected to unlicensed operations. The regulator views these seizures as an immediate blow, as well as a long-term deterrent for those pondering a foray into the illegal wagering business.

Working alongside the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, the MGCB says last year’s investigations resulted in the seizure of 79 illegal gambling machines. Further, nine individuals received criminal gambling convictions and 24 were arraigned on illegal gambling charges.

MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams praised the public for its role in aiding the investigations. As such, the organization encourages citizens to continue providing tips related to unlawful wagering operations.

“Thanks to the vigilant supervision of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, last year agency personnel were able to target and disrupt several instances of illegal gambling activities that undermined the integrity of our legitimate, regulated gaming industry,” said Williams. “With a commitment to maintaining fairness, transparency, and public trust, these proactive efforts were undertaken – thanks to many tips from concerned Michigan citizens — to ensure safe, regulated gambling environments.

“I encourage the public to please keep the tips coming, as we take each one very seriously.”

MGCB continues crackdown in 2024, shuts down Flint facilities

A new year has brought the same focus for the MGCB. On March 14, the MGCB announced the closure of multiple illegal wagering locations in Flint.

Linos Antonio Kas-Mikha, 52, of Grand Blanc, and Robert Jamerson, 55, of Saginaw, were subsequently arraigned in 67th District Court located at 630 South Saginaw Street in Flint. For their alleged roles in the scheme, the suspects each face four felony charges:

  • One count for running a gambling operation without a license
  • Two counts for using computers to commit a crime
  • One count for maintaining a gambling house for gain at Cellular Bank (4622 N. Saginaw Street in Flint)

According to an MGCB news release, the bootleg wagering facility housed two dozen illegal gambling devices. Specifically, The Cellular Bank held 11 standalone slot machines like the ones available at commercial casinos. And there were 13 computers on which patrons could play slot-style games.

Further, the corrupt operation also provided patrons with a PIN card, enabling them to wager online from offsite locations such as their homes.

Most recently, hearings for each defendant occurred on March 14 at 8:30 a.m. in 67th District Court.

Photo by PlayMichigan
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Matthew Lomon

Matthew Lomon has been a contributor at Catena Media’s network of regional sites since July 2022. He first broke into covering the legal North American gambling industry with PlayCanada. Since then, Matthew's reporting has extended to PlayMichigan, PlayPennsylvania, and PlayIllinois. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Matthew is an avid (bordering on fanatic) sports fan.

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