Henry Williams Takes Over As Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director

Written By Matt Schoch on May 17, 2021

The Michigan Gaming Control Board officially has a new executive director.

Henry Williams, who served as a deputy director under the departing Richard Kalm, was confirmed last week by the Michigan Senate and officially assumed the position on Monday.

Williams was confirmed by a 34-1 roll call vote. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer nominated Williams last month.

“I am honored to begin my appointment as executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board,” Williams said in a statement released by the MGCB. “I look forward to leading the agency’s continuing success and thank outgoing Executive Director Richard S. Kalm for his leadership and the opportunities he provided that paved the way for my appointment.”

The MGCB oversees the Detroit casinos, online gambling statewide, charitable gambling events and horse racing. The board also oversees annual payments made by Michigan tribal casinos to the state from slot machine revenue.

Williams with MGCB for more than 20 years

Michigan gaming exceutive director Williams has 20 years of experience working at the MGCB. He most recently was deputy director for the casino operations division. The division regulates the Detroit commercial casinos, issues occupational licenses, houses the agency’s gaming lab and manages self-exclusion programs for problem gamblers.

According to the MGCB, Williams began his career in state government in 1997 and previously worked in various positions as a juvenile justice worker, family independence specialist, protective services worker and probation officer.

A resident of Detroit, Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Marygrove College. He is a licensed social worker.

Richard Kalm helped get online betting off the ground

Kalm was appointed by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and then reappointed in 2013 by Gov. Rick Snyder. After two six-year terms, Kalm wanted to see through the launch of internet gaming and online sports betting after Whitmer signed the laws in December 2019.

The pre-launch process took more than a year and was saddled by the pandemic.

Online betting launched Jan. 22. Through April, more than $1 billion was wagered online on sports in 99 days in Michigan. MI Online casinos spurred $299.0 million in internet gaming revenue during that period, putting Michigan among the nation’s leading states in a short time frame.

Kalm lauded Williams last week, adding his relationships with Detroit casino figures will help the locations going forward. The top executives of the Detroit casinos released a joint statement on Williams’ behalf after his nomination was announced.

“I whole-heartedly endorsed him, and in fact, spoke on his behalf as director, because the leadership team pretty much stays in place,” Kalm told PlayMichigan last week. “And he’s been with me for all 14 years and the last several in a leadership position as one of my deputy directors.

“So I think he gets it. I really do.”

Sen. Tom Barrett, a Republican from the Lansing area, was the only senator to oppose the confirmation.

Photo by Michigan Gaming Control Board
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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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