Michigan’s gaming regulatory authority has joined with officials in six other states in calling for federal authorities to crack down on illegal gambling operators.
Regulators from Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Nevada also signed the letter, which was sent to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, telling him states cannot address the threat by themselves.
The MGCB oversees Michigan sports betting and casinos.
MCGB Executive Director’s Statement
“In Michigan, strict laws and rules govern internet gaming and sports betting and provide consumer protections, promote confidence and ensure fair and honest gaming,” Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Henry Williams said in a statement. “We are willing to help the U.S. Department of Justice in any way we can as it pursues enforcement of U.S. laws against offshore illegal gaming enterprises that take advantage of our citizens.”
The push from the states follows similar calls made by the American Gaming Association and the Congressional Gaming Caucus.
Illegal gambling can take several forms. Sports betting can include unregulated offshore sportsbooks that market their sites to American bettors even though they’re not approved to operate in any state. It also can include local bookies, who may work with offshore sites to manage their operations.
Those unregulated operators do not pay any taxes to states, nor do they promote responsible gaming practices. There are also concerns that those sites can be used for money laundering practices and easily accessed by underage users.
Those who wager through those operators also do not have the same guaranteed consumer protections. That can put their money at risk.
Legal, Regulated Operators Offer Protection
This all differs from the level of protection from legal, regulated operators such as those that offer Michigan sportsbook apps and online casino, or iGaming, sites.
“State regulators like the MGCB ensure operators offer products that pass technical standards and testing, and we also require operators to comply with reporting requirements,” Williams said. “Offshore operators flaunt state regulations and offer products that do not protect the public, which greatly concerns me and my fellow state regulators.”
The U.S. Department of Justice has worked to prosecute illegal gaming operations. In Illinois, the DOJ charged several people connected to UncleMickSports, an operation that featured more than 20 agents and 1,000 bettors. The ringleader, Vincent DelGiudice, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison in March 2022 and ordered to pay $3.6 million, funds he received through the gambling ring.
In Michigan, the MGCB seized 36 slot-like gaming machines and more than $23,000 in February from an alleged illegal gambling ring set up in Delta Township.
The raid came after the board received numerous complaints and tips about the operation.
“Illegal gaming locations prey on vulnerable people and don’t offer the patron protections required for legal, regulated gaming,” Williams said after the raid. “The MGCB will continue to work hard to protect Michigan communities from crime by eliminating illegal gambling. We appreciate the public’s help in identifying possible illegal gambling locations.”