What Do Caesars And MGM Attacks Mean For Michigan Casino Gambling?

Written By Dan Holmes on September 18, 2023 - Last Updated on November 22, 2023
The big question: Will cyber attacks impact future of Michigan casinos?

Ransomware attacks have caused security troubles for two of the biggest names in casino gaming in the last few weeks.

In Michigan, MGM Grand Detroit was targeted by a notorious hacker group called “Scattered Spider” last week.

As of Monday, MGM Grand Detroit is still experiencing some issues with its communications systems, though the casino/resort is open for business in spite of the cybersecurity breach.

Less than a month ago, Caesars was also attacked by Scattered Spider. That prompted the company to pay a ransom of reportedly as much as $15 million to regain control of some of its technical systems. That attack did not lead to widespread disruption at Caesars casinos across the United States. There is not a Caesars casino/resort in Michigan, but the company does operate Caesars Windsor casino in Ontario, directly across the river from Detroit.

The news about the ransomware attacks has led to concern by some who may be wondering if its safe to visit their favorite casino.

MGM Grand Detroit open for business

Of the three commercial casinos in the city limits of Detroit, the MGM Grand is the only one known to have been attacked by a hacker group.

In a ransomware attack, a criminal hacker group gains access to systems from their target, and then demands a payment to return the data or access to the data. At MGM Grand Detroit, it’s been reported that Scattered Spider and possibly another hacker group called ALPHV, took control of servers that governed the gaming systems, reservations and customer data. As of Monday morning, it’s unclear whether MGM Resorts, parent company of MGM casinos, was negotiating to pay a ransom to the hackers.

MGM Grand Detroit’s slot machines and gaming tables are operational. However, some point-of-sale and automated teller machines are not functioning. It’s not known whether any private customer information has been compromised or placed at risk.

Possible compromise of Caesars Loyalty Program information

Caesars Entertainment Inc. announced last week that it’s popular loyalty program Caesars Rewards® was part of the data that may have been stolen by hackers. As a result, rewards program members are encouraged to call the Caesars help line to learn if their personal information is threatened for identity theft.

Michigan consumers who belong to Caesars Rewards® should contact the company to discuss their membership and data concerns on their Caesars Palace MI app.

Hearings likely to convene on casino security

The crippling attacks on MGM and Caesars have hampered very few bettors. But the attacks will certainly draw the attention of regulators in Michigan.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) will likely hold hearings to discuss the ransomware attacks. And, possibly, it will levy a fine on operators who were attacked. State law requires casinos to safeguard private customer information. But, the Scattered Spider attack underscores the eagerness by which an isolated group of criminals will target casinos. The Caesars payoff proves that attacks can be profitable for the hacker groups, which may embolden them.

Casinos have been legal in Michigan for more than two decades. And there have been few serious cybersecurity issues. But, the MGCB is required to ensure that visitors and their personal information are safe when they visit casinos.

The hacker attack on MGM Grand Detroit isn’t the only security scare to strike casinos in MI this summer.

In August, an employee at Four Winds Casino Hartford was allegedly duped into taking $700,000 from the cash room and delivering it to an unknown person. Like the Scattered Spider attacks, the perpetrators of that scam used the internal phone systems to impersonate senior staff, reportedly.

Suffice to say that MGCB officials will likely work hard to show the public that casinos are safe in Michigan.

Online casinos and sportsbooks not impacted by threat

The attacks by hackers have impacted MGM and Caesars in as many as six states. But, they have not, apparently, affected online sportsbook accounts. BetMGM Sportsbook MI is available, still functioning and safe for consumers.

Sports bettors can still register with Michigan mobile sportsbooks and earn promo offers.

Plus, online casinos in Michigan are not impacted, and MI online casino bonuses are available.

The BetMGM Michigan Casino app is available for download for the iPhone and Android devices.

Michigan is one of the few states with legal online casinos. And BetMGM has been one of the most popular choices for players.

Dan Holmes Avatar
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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a Michigan resident who writes about sports betting, sports media, casino and sports betting legislative matters. He's the author of three books, and previously reported for Major League Baseball, as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. He lives near Lake Michigan with his daughters.

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