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Henry Williams

MGCB Adopts 1-800-GAMBLER as Statewide Problem Gambling Helpline

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The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) announced new efforts to streamline access to help by promoting 1-800-GAMBLER as the state’s primary problem gambling helpline. Operated by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), the National Problem Gambling Helpline (1-800-GAMBLER) is the largest problem gambling helpline network in the world by call volume, population served and geographic area covered. The helpline connects people and families impacted by problem gambling with professional support, local referrals, and resources.

Online gaming platform providers operating in Michigan will be required to display the 1-800-GAMBLER number as part of their responsible gaming messages and update any existing listed helpline numbers by Aug. 8, 2024.

1-800-GAMBLER serves as a single, streamlined access point to local services and problem gambling help from anywhere in the US. The adoption of the number by MGCB for use in Michigan helps to move one step closer to consolidating the variety of state-level gambling helplines into one easy-to-remember problem gambling helpline number.

“The National Problem Gambling Helpline Network connects individuals struggling with gambling addiction to trained professionals who offer confidential assistance and resources. By adopting 1-800-GAMBLER as the statewide problem gambling helpline, the MGCB reinforces its commitment to ensuring a safe and secure gaming environment for players across the state by ensuring that resources for treatment and recovery can be accessed quickly and easily,” MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams said.

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The 1-800-GAMBLER helpline will replace the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline currently in circulation (1-800-270-7117), although the previous number will remain in operation. Calls made to 1-800-GAMBLER from Michigan will be routed to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS). The helpline can also be reached by texting 800GAM or chatting online at 1800gamblerchat.org. Trained contact center staff are available 24/7, 365 days a year to provide support, guidance, and relevant information to anyone seeking help related to problem gambling.

“An easily accessible helpline is a vital tool in providing problem gambling support services across the country. We applaud MGCB for taking proactive efforts to address the needs of those affected by problem gambling and for recognizing the significance of promoting 1-800-GAMBLER in Michigan,” said Keith Whyte, NCPG Executive Director.

Detroit

Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Extends Support for Governor’s Economic Initiatives and State of the State Address

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Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) Executive Director Henry Williams has issued the following statement after Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered her sixth annual State of the State address at the Michigan State Capitol Building this evening, during which she outlined priorities for the year to state legislators and leaders:

“As a native of Detroit, lifelong Michigander and dedicated gaming regulator, I am pleased to express my support for the Governor and her commendable economic initiatives as outlined in her recent State of the State address. Governor Whitmer has demonstrated a sincere commitment to promoting economic growth and revitalizing our great state and Michigan’s gaming industry is a significant contributor to that effort.

“Our commercial and tribal operators are already on a roll in 2024, fueled by momentum from 2023; a year that saw Michigan’s total iGaming and sports betting gross receipts hit a record $2.3 billion. The state continues to receive hundreds of millions of tax dollars from gaming operators and the casinos, which is much-needed funding that goes back into supporting our local communities and their citizens.

“Despite the fact that Michigan only recently launched online gaming three years ago, it has since become an emerging powerhouse and the country’s second leading iGaming market, just ahead of New Jersey and behind Pennsylvania, proving that we’re well on our way to being simply the best.

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“It is through the collaboration of government, businesses and communities that we owe our collective success and through which we can achieve continued economic growth and development that creates a better future for all Michiganders. I am proud to be a part of it and pledge my support to collaborate with the Governor and her administration in achieving our shared goals.”

Gambling in any form is for entertainment purposes only. If someone has a gambling problem, please call the state’s 24-hour, toll-free helpline at 1-800-270-7117 or the MGCB’s responsible gaming section at 1-888-223-3044. Visit the Responsible Gaming page of the MGCB website for information on self-exclusion programs including the Disassociated Persons List and the Internet Gaming and Sports Betting Responsible Gaming Database and DontRegretTheBet.org for additional tools to game responsibly.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board shall ensure the conduct of fair and honest gaming to protect the interests of the citizens of the state of Michigan. Learn more at Michigan.gov/MGCB.

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Compliance Updates

MGCB: Bridgeport Township Raid Yields Numerous Gambling Devices, Thousands in Cash, More Than $180K in Gift Cards Confiscated

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On Wednesday, Oct. 18, state investigators executed two search warrants following a joint investigation by the Michigan Department of Attorney General and the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) that yielded the confiscation of six slot-type gaming machines — four of which were Nudgemaster machines, 11 computers, $6306 in suspected gambling proceeds, and $182,430 in Simon Giftcards.

Assisted by special agents from the Department of Attorney General, along with the Bridgeport Township Police Department, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, and the Liquor Control Commission, authorities conducted one search at the PlayStation Bar and Grill, located at 6154 Dixie Highway in Bridgeport Township, and a second search at a residence in Goodrich that was associated with the owner of the PlayStation and Universal Video Inc. — a known supplier of Nudgemaster machines.

“Business owners who house illegal, unregulated gaming machines in their establishments are breaking the law, creating opportunities for increased crime in communities, and allowing unnecessary consumer risk to those who use the machines, which do not meet the stringent regulatory requirements needed to ensure fair play. The public is encouraged to contact us if they see a casino-type gaming machine in a restaurant, gas station, or convenience store. We investigate every tip and work hard to protect Michigan citizens from such crime in their neighborhoods,” MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams said.

The searches in Bridgeport Township and Goodrich were spurred by an anonymous tip submitted by a concerned citizen who saw Nudgemaster casino-style gaming machines at the PlayStation Bar and Grill and suspected illegal gambling was taking place there. MGCB staff investigated and noticed that some of the video slot-type gaming machines were tagged with “Property of Universal Video” stickers. This led them to request the second search warrant at the PlayStation owner’s residence and the location of Universal Video Inc.

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“Our department works hand in hand with the Michigan Gaming Control Board in our efforts to shut down illegal gaming operations as a matter of public safety and consumer protection. Illegal gambling diverts revenues from our state and schools, and these operations can pose a danger to their neighborhoods as they typically attract other types of criminal activity,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

The PlayStation Bar and Grill owner previously owned a business in Grand Rapids named the Nudgemaster Café that received a cease-and-desist letter in October 2019. No arrests were made following the execution of the search warrants in Bridgeport and Goodrich.

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American Gaming Association

MGCB Executive Director Meets with Flint City Officials to Discuss Ways to Combat Illegal Gaming

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In an effort to combat illegal gaming activities, Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Henry Williams recently met with Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley and State Rep. Cynthia Neeley (D-Flint) to discuss strategies to help deter and crack down on illegal gaming operations in the city.

During their August 29 conversation, the officials also talked about the impact of storefront casinos and illegal gaming on residents and how such establishments are a nuisance for the city, tarnishing the reputations of regulated, legitimate gaming establishments.

“As a regulator, it’s important to me to have face-to-face conversations with area leaders so that we can share our knowledge and gain a more comprehensive understanding of illegal gaming issues, especially from their local perspective. I look forward to working with Mayor Neeley on the city’s efforts to prevent individuals from reopening a place of business under a new name in a location that was previously cited for illegal gaming operation concerns, minimize risks to his community from such establishments, and help protect Flint residents from harm,” Williams said.

A week before the leaders’ meeting, the MGCB seized 50 gambling devices and $13,260 in suspected gambling proceeds on August 23 from an alleged illegal storefront casino that was operating under the name of The Flint Arcade, located at 3301 Corunna Road in Flint. Authorities had previously conducted a raid at the same location a year earlier, on Aug. 18, 2022, when the MGCB investigated suspected illegal gambling at The Cellular Vault. That search yielded 43 computers used for gambling and $2,572.48 in winnings and gambling proceeds.

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“It is important to protect the Flint community from predatory illegal gaming operations, and I thank Director Williams for his continued partnership in this effort. These unwelcome operations threaten public safety by creating environments where other criminal activity can thrive,” Mayor Neeley said.

“By working together to implement comprehensive measures — from strengthening laws and regulatory frameworks to raising awareness about the issue of illegal gaming machines — we can help reduce the prevalence of illegal gaming in our communities. I look forward to continuing this conversation with MGCB Executive Director Williams and appreciate the time he took to visit Flint and discuss this important issue, and I will do what I can to help advance any necessary changes to the law in my capacity serving with the Michigan Legislature,” Rep. Neeley said.

Unlicensed casinos, unauthorized online gambling platforms, underground sports-betting operations, or any other form of wagering that is not regulated by the MGCB are all considered forms of illegal gaming. As a result of MGCB investigations from January 2015 through July 2023, a total of 1195 illegal machines and $470,401.98 have been seized. Additionally, since November 2022, 48 locations have received cease-and-desist letters involving 105 illegal machines.

“I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Mayor Neeley and Rep. Neeley in Flint and to share information with him about how the MGCB can assist with investigations and raids on alleged illegal gaming operations. Illegal gaming is a widespread problem that is not unique to Michigan, but we are prepared to act and will hold bad actors accountable who are caught breaking the law. The agency is committed to fighting illegal online gaming, pop-up illegal casinos, and the proliferation of illegal gaming machines in gas stations, bars, and other locally owned establishments — and I look forward to seeing what the Michigan Legislature can do to help us with these issues,” said Williams, who was recently selected as a finalist in the Regulator of the Year category of the 2023 American Gambling Awards.

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