MGCB Promises Swift Justice for Illegal Gaming Machines and Sites

darren cooper
Darren Cooper
Michigan Gaming Control Board


  • Speaking at an international conference of gambling industry leaders, MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams said his organization would continue to track down illegal activities and machines.
  • Speaking at an international conference of gambling industry leaders, MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams said his organization would continue to track down illegal activities and machines.
  • With modern-day technology and communication ability, fighting against illegal gambling web sites and machines has never been more complicated.

All eyes are on Michigan and Detroit this weekend for the 2024 NFL Draft, and the recent opening of the first land-based ESPNBet Retail Sportsbook, but the leaders of the Michigan Gaming Control Board want all visitors and state residents to remember that they should only play at legal and licensed casinos and sportsbooks.

Michigan is home to 26 casinos, three in the Detroit area and 23 tribal casinos spaced out across the landscape. According to the American Gaming Association, there are 22 officially licensed casino establishments and 14 different licensed online sportsbooks in Michigan

But with its proximity to Canada and lakes - Michigan and lakes, remember - there are always off-shore gambling outfits and illegal machines providing temptation. The MGCB might be fighting a losing battle to try to stop them, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try.

Tough Talk from MGCB

Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Henry Williams was a featured guest at the International Masters of Gaming Law conference in Tampa Bay, with similar level officials from across America and representatives from Malta, Belgium, Canada and Georgia, the Eastern European nation.

All agreed that combatting illegal gambling machines and websites is an increasingly difficult problem with today’s advanced technology. Williams encouraged a collaborative approach and said his organization would uphold the law.

“If people choose to ignore the law and don’t do what’s legal, we’re going to find them and hold them accountable for their actions,” Williams said in a press release put out by the MGCB. “In Michigan, the Michigan Gaming Control Board has made it a priority to do everything we can to protect our state’s citizens from illegal gambling market operators and our legitimate gaming industry from being tarnished by its illegal counterparts. We have a zero-tolerance policy towards illegal gaming activities.”

In 2023, investigations by the MGCB resulted in the appropriation of 79 illegal gambling machines, and nine individuals were convicted of illegal gambling.

The Continued Fight

Earlier this year, the MGCB sent cease and desist letter three online gaming companies for offering services in Michigan without licenses. These were the three charged:

Prediction Strike in New York bills itself as the first fantasy sports stock market with the ability to but and sell shares of a professional athlete and have their stock rise and fall pinged on their performance.

The VGW LuckyLand (Virtual Gaming Worlds) based in San Francisco offer online slot and poker games.

Sweepstakes Limited in Cyprus is a sweepstakes style casino online raffle, where players can buy tokens to play games instead of using actual cash.

All three companies have pulled out of Michigan, according to the MGCB.

Keeping Eyes and Ears Open

While it can be extremely difficult to tell the difference between a regulated gaming machine in Michigan and one that is not licenses, the truth is that there are significant risks with playing at a site or on a machine that’s not monitored by the MGCB.

Odds can be skewed heavily in the house’s favor at an offshore site or unregulated machine, and there are serious security issues that can arise. Win a bet with FanDuel or DraftKings on a Lions game, or a Pistons game and you know you’ll be paid, with an offshore site or sweepstakes casino, there can be a problem, and you won’t have any recourse.

The MGCB encourages the public to report alleged illegal gambling by contacting the agency at 1-888-314-2682 or sending a message to [email protected].

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.