MGCB Sends Cease-and-Desist Letters to Illegal International iGaming Operators

Jessica Aletor
By:
Jessica Aletor
29/01/2024/
Legal
Michigan Casino News

Highlights

  • The Michigan Gaming Control Board recently announced that it forwarded cease-and-desist letters to supposed illegal online casinos in the state.
  • PredictionStrike Inc., Sweepstakes Limited (Stake.us) and VG LuckyLand, Inc. (VGW) were the three affected internet gaming companies.
  • These companies are alleged to have violated Michigan laws by offering unlicensed internet gaming, promoting unlicensed lotteries, and conducting illegal gambling.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that it rids the state of illegal and unlicensed gambling operations. As part of efforts to live up to this commitment, the MGCB revealed that it has sent cease-and-desist letters to internet gaming companies operating in the Great Lakes State.

According to the Board, these companies were investigated over a lengthy timeframe and found to have violated multiple gambling laws. Since the action by the MGCB, all three operators have taken steps to restrict Michigan residents from their websites.

Three Affected Companies Operate Outside of Michigan Borders 

In a release published on January 18, 2024, the Michigan Gaming Control Board announced that PredictionStrike Inc., Sweepstakes Limited (Stake.us) and VGW LuckyLand, Inc. (VGW) were the three companies it sent cease-and-desist letters. In that order, the MGCB sent them letters on October 19, November 2, and December 5, 2023.

Two of these companies operate in the US while the other one is headquartered overseas. However, none of the operators are Michigan online gambling platforms with a direct presence in the state.

PredictionStrike Inc. operates in Bay Shore, New York while LuckyLand, Inc. offers its services from San Francisco, California, although its parent company, VGW Holdings Ltd is an online social gaming provider with its headquarters in Australia. The last company, Sweepstakes Limited, operates out of its office in Limassol, Cyprus.

This comes only a few months after Golden Hearts Games Inc. was forced out of the state following a similar process. For Golden Hearts, it received its cease-and-desist letter from the MGCB in March 2022 but only signed an Assurance of Discontinuance in September 2023 which saw it leave the state.

Representatives of Golden Heart Games have since come to deny the company’s involvement in illegal gambling, stating that it was into promotional gaming. The CEO, Steve Kane in a statement to reporters mentioned that the company only exited after threat of a civil action by the Michigan Attorney General.

MGCB Finds the Operators in Violation of the Lawful Internet Gaming Act 

The three gambling operators were each found guilty of independent violations. PredictionStrike is said to have offered internet gaming and online sports betting in Michigan without a license. Stake.us, on the other hand, violated laws preventing the promotion of unlicensed online lottery or raffle to customers.

Finally, LuckyLand Inc. was alleged to have conducted illegal gambling through an internet game where players wager something of monetary value to win something of monetary value. Back in October, its parent company Virtual Gaming World (VGW) exited the state, and subsequently prevented access to Chumba Casino, Global Poker and LuckyLand Slots, VGW’s other subsidiaries.

“Gambling regulations are in place for a reason, and illegal gambling operations are not welcome in Michigan,” MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams said in a press release.  

“We do not want businesses who skirt the law having access to Michigan citizens and leaving them vulnerable because they are playing on unregulated sites that leave them with no recourse, and that siphon funds away from communities because they are not paying taxes like a regulated, legal gambling establishment would.”

Michigan Law Punishes Illegal Gaming with Imprisonment and Fines 

Although the three operators have now restricted Michiganders from gambling on their websites, they would have been in serious trouble had they not heeded. Their actions are in direct violation of the Michigan Lawful Internet Gaming Act, the Lawful Sports Betting Act, the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act and the Michigan Penal Code.

The Lawful Internet Gaming Act and the Lawful Sports Betting Act allow only licensed iGaming and licensed sports betting operators, respectively, to offer these services to customers.

On the other hand, under the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act, companies are prohibited from conducting a gambling operation without a license from the MGCB. Violating this law is a felony which is punishable by imprisonment of up to 10 years or a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

Under the Penal Code, all forms of unauthorized gambling involving anything of monetary value and with the agreement that something of monetary or other value will be paid upon the outcome of an uncertain event is prohibited.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board remains resolute in its fight against illegal and unlicensed gambling. If you have information regarding illegal gambling websites, you can report your tips to the MGCB by calling 1-888-314-2682 or sending a message to [email protected].

Jessica is a news contributor to Gamble Online Michigan. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics but has over three years of experience working in the hospitality and gambling industry. Despite her core finance and investment banking background, she has been a casino feature writer for N1 Interactive Limited and multiple gambling affiliate sites. Her work has been featured on the bet365 blog, casino.zone and Max Force Racing. She spends her time between Michigan and California, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments