In an effort to combat illegal gambling activities, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) recently destroyed numerous unlicensed illegal gaming machines at a junkyard located in Detroit. The machines had been seized by the Attorney General during various MGCB investigations into alleged illegal gambling.
The MGCB’s Executive Director, Henry Williams, emphasized the dangers of illegal gaming, stating that it poses a threat to Michigan citizens and their communities. It often leads to an increase in organized criminal activity, financial exploitation, and other social issues, Williams noted.
“Unregulated gaming machines also result in a loss of state revenue. 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.”
According to a report by the American Gaming Association, there are an estimated 580,651 unregulated gaming machines in the U.S., including so-called “skill machines,” which account for 40% of all US gaming machines when compared to the 870,000 regulated machines in casinos nationwide.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel highlighted the dangers posed by illegal gaming operations, which often become hotspots for other crimes and violence within communities. Nessel pledged to continue coordinating with the MGCB to ensure strict enforcement of Michigan’s gambling laws.
“The machines destroyed by the MGCB are the tools of criminals, cheating the neighbors of their hard-earned money as well as the state out of gaming revenues that support our schools,” Nessel stated.
Michigan law prohibits any form of wagering that is not regulated by the MGCB, including unlicensed casinos, unauthorized online gambling platforms, underground sports betting operations, and other forms of illegal gaming.
As part of its efforts to halt illegal gaming, the MGCB and the Liquor Control Commission launched a joint initiative in 2022 to educate the public and business owners about the illegal use of gambling machines.
The MGCB has seized a total of 1,195 illegal machines and $470,401.98 through investigations from January 2015 to July 2023. Since November 2022, 48 locations have received cease-and-desist letters involving 105 illegal machines.
The Attorney General’s office also stores hundreds of additional gaming machines and related equipment, likely to be ordered for destruction following ongoing criminal proceedings. To ensure that the machines cannot be reused or sold, they are crushed using heavy machinery to prevent any salvageable parts from being used elsewhere.
Michigan citizens can report illegal or suspicious gambling activity anonymously through a 24-hour tipline at 1-888-314-2682 or by sending a message (not anonymous) to [email protected].
Written tips can also be submitted anonymously to the MGCB using an online form on the agency’s website at Michigan.gov/MGCB under the “Report Illegal or Suspicious Gambling Activity” link in the Resources section.