Two businesses in Flint were raided on Aug. 18 and state authorities seized more than $10,000 in cash and gift cards from alleged illegal gambling activity. The Michigan Gaming Control Board announced that it took confiscated 11 video slot machines and 56 computers that were apparently being used to facilitate illegal sports betting.
The raid was based on anonymous tips from locals and follows a similar seizure of illegal gambling machines at two other Flint businesses in April. That operation yielded more than 100 gambling devices and close to $30,000 in cash and gift cards.
The two businesses involved in the Aug. 18 raid are Cellular Vault, located in Flint at 3301 Corunna Road, and Cellular Bank, at 4622 N. Saginaw Street in the same city. Both the Michigan Gaming Control Board and the office of the Michigan Department of Attorney General were involved in the investigation.
Motivation Behind the Seizures
The seizure of illegal gaming devices comes at a time when the MGCB has received even more funding for its operations. In July, Republicans and Democrats came together to assure that $7 million in additional funding would be available for the Michigan Gaming Control Board. In 2021, the MGCB budget was roughly $38.5 million, and in 2022-23 it will rise to $45.5 million. A portion of those funds is used to investigate illegal betting operations, as well as to produce responsible and safe gaming resources for consumers in Michigan.
Consumers are warned to be wary of betting sites that are not operating within the laws of the state of Michigan, which launched legalized sports betting and online casino gaming in January 2021. Locations that are authorized to provide casino and sports betting must display licensing information. Kiosk-style betting on sports or slots and other casino gameplay are allowed only in lottery locations or venues such as clubs (Elks, VFW, etc.), as well as licensed restaurants or bars.
The website for the Michigan Gaming Control Board contains a link to a list of all Licensed Internet Gaming Providers, as well as phone numbers and contact information to report suspicious gaming activity. The 24-hour anonymous tip line is 1-888-314-2682.
Consumers in Michigan can also refer to a fact sheet from the MGCB or a FAQ sheet about unregulated machines that’s useful for spotting illegal operators.
Why Illegal Gaming is Dangerous
Illegal gaming operators can disguise the legitimacy of their activity, or exist outside the law while serving customers who are aware that what they are doing is illegal. In either case, there is a serious danger to the consumer. Sometimes, illegal betting operators are also involved in other nefarious or illegal activities.
Wagers placed with illegal sports betting operations or via illegal casino gaming machines do not provide the protections under the law in case of fraud or dispute. Operators of illegal betting operations have not paid licensing fees, do not pay taxes on the activity, and they have not been vetted by the authorities. You are at risk if you associate with illegal sportsbooks or illegitimate casino-style gaming machines.
Despite the seizure of illegal gaming devices and associated money in Flint in April and now in August, sports betting has been a tremendous success in Michigan. In 2022 — its second year with legal online sports betting and casino gaming — Michigan has surpassed $6 billion in total handle from sports wagering alone. The tax revenue from that activity is more than $5.2 million.