Posted on: January 23, 2024, 12:55h.
Last updated on: January 23, 2024, 12:55h.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has sent cease-and-desist letters to three online gaming websites operating in the state unlawfully.
State gaming regulators say PredictionStrike Inc., based in Bay Shore, New York, Sweepstakes Limited, based in Limassol, Cyprus, and VGW LuckyLand, Inc., based in San Francisco were each running illegal gaming enterprises in Michigan. The MGCB has ordered each company to immediately stop allowing people inside Michigan to access the unlicensed gaming websites.
Gambling regulations are in place for a reason, and illegal gambling operations are not welcome in Michigan,” said MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams. “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 is one of six states that allows online casinos, but platforms must undergo extensive suitability reviews by the MGCB before receiving an iGaming license and being deemed an approved online gaming platform. iGaming firms are required to partner with one of the three commercial casinos in Detroit or with a tribe holding a Class III gaming compact with the state.
FanDuel, for instance, runs online slots and table games through its partnership with Detroit’s MotorCity Casino. DraftKings runs iGaming through its partnership with the Bay Mills Indian Community, which owns and operates its namesake Bay Mills Resort & Casino and Kings Club Casino in Chippewa County.
Illegal Gaming Websites
Michigan gaming regulators were recently tipped off about the unlicensed websites doing business unlawfully.
An MGCB investigation determined that PredictionStrike offered internet casino gambling and sports betting without holding applicable licenses. The state agency found VGW to be operating illegal internet gambling games.
The Board concluded that Sweepstakes Limited operated as Stake.us and ran unlicensed online lottery and raffle games. Stake bills itself as a social casino, a claim disputed by the MGCB. Stake pays Canadian rapper Drake to market its online gaming business.
Michigan legalized online casino gaming for its commercial and tribal casinos in 2019. The Lawful Internet Gaming Act says only casinos “that are currently licensed under the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act and federally authorized tribal casinos within Michigan” can apply for internet gaming and sports betting licenses.
Michigan provides prosecutors with considerable penalties to levy against those who violate the state’s gaming laws. A person found guilty of operating an unlicensed gambling operation faces felony charges and penalties including up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $100,000.
Unlawful iGaming Remains Problem
The American Gaming Association says more states should legalize online gaming to protect consumers who want to play from home and to rid out bad actors and offshore gaming websites that continue to target US players. The casino lobby has called on the US Justice Department to better enforce the country’s laws that prohibit overseas companies from allowing players in the US to gamble on their websites.
“These bad actors prey on vulnerable customers, offer no consumer protections, do not ensure integrity or fair play, and generate no economic benefit for states or tribal nations,” said AGA CEO Bill Miller.