Michigan Gaming Control Board — Literally — Smashes Illegal Gambling Machines

Written By Dan Holmes on September 26, 2023 - Last Updated on September 27, 2023
Image of hammer with MGCB on it for story on Michigan smashing illegal gambling machines

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has destroyed several illegal gaming machines it confiscated as part of investigations earlier this year, the agency announced Tuesday.

Unlicensed gaming machines were seized by the MGCB in cooperation with law enforcement. They were crushed at a Detroit-area recycling center, says Executive Director Henry Williams.

“Illegal gaming continues to pose a threat to Michigan citizens and their communities, as it often leads to an increase in organized criminal activity, financial exploitation, and other related social issues,” Williams said in a statement.

Michigan cracking down on illegal gambling

Michigan law forbids the use of unlicensed gaming machines. The venues that host them are illegal gambling centers subject to raids by the MGCB and partners.

The office of the Attorney General of Michigan has shown eagerness to pursue and prosecute such activity. The primary goal is to protect Michigan residents from unregulated gaming, as well as sheltering consumers from potential harm from other illegal operations.

“Unregulated gaming machines also result in a loss of state revenue,” said Williams. “Operators running illegal gaming establishments are not reporting earnings or paying taxes — they are essentially robbing Michigan citizens of taxes and revenue used to support our schools through the School Aid Fund and our communities and local governments with essential state funding dollars.”

MGCB has seized more than 1,100 illegal gambling machines

Recently, officials from the MGCB and political and community leaders in Flint met to strategize ways to combat illegal gaming, which has been found in that area of the state multiple times.

The MGCB has seized more than $400,000 and in excess of 1,100 illegal gambling machines since 2015. Also, according to the state website, 48 locations in Michigan have been sent cease-and-desist letters in the last nine months. Those letters were delivered to locations that had allegedly 105 illegal gaming machines.

Despite legalization of casinos and other gaming in many states, criminal gaming operations are a significant problem in the country.

According to the MGCB, as many as 40% of all gaming machines in the United States are unregulated. That represents 580,651 machines, according to a report from the American Gaming Association.

Image of construction vehicle destroying illegal Michigan gambling machines
Courtesy of MGCB

The MGCB also recently took action against an illegal online casino. Earlier in September, Attorney General Dana Nessel shut down Golden Hearts Games, a Massachusetts-based company offering charity-based sweepstakes gaming.

“When companies like Golden Hearts attempt to circumvent Michigan’s gaming laws, they create the false impression that their games are legal and safe for consumers,” Nessel said in a statement at the time.

Illegal gaming machines often exist in criminal enterprises

Consumers should always do their gambling at one of the 14 regulated, legal online casinos in Michigan.

People should never participate in gambling activity at unlicensed venues on machines that are not sanctioned by the state. These locations are frequently in suspect buildings using nefarious methods, such as secret entrances or blatant disregard for laws and gaming practices.

“Illegal gaming operations are a danger to their communities, typically becoming local hotspots for other crimes and violence,” Williams said.

Illegal gaming machines may appear to be legitimate. But Michigan citizens should always consult the MGCB website or ask operators for credentials if they are suspicious.

The MI Attorney General’s office has filed criminal charges against more than two dozen individuals for illegal gaming activity since 2021. That office also currently has possession of “[h]undreds of additional gaming machines and related equipment” that could be ordered destroyed by courts in the future. When a destroy order is given, the MGCB crushes and thoroughly dismantles the machines. They do that so no parts can be salvaged and re-used by criminals.

Anyone who wishes to report illegal gaming activity can do so in Michigan via a 24-hour tip line (1-888-314-2682). Reporting can also be done by sending an email to [email protected].

Photo by Shutterstock
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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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