The Michigan Gaming News Letter

Canada Authorizes Single Game Sports Betting

On June 22, the Senate of Canada approved Bill C-218, introduced by Conservative Kevin Waugh, that amends the Criminal Code provisions governing gambling to authorize betting on single sports games. Because betting on single sports games besides horse racing was previously illegal in Canada, the bill is intended to draw customers away from foreign gambling facilities and raise revenue nationally. Upon royal assent, the bill will become law.

Bill C-218 marks the third attempt to authorize single-game sports betting in Canada. Nearly a decade ago, the House of Commons passed similar enabling legislation with support from all parties, but the bill died in the Senate. A second attempt by New Democrat Brian Masse failed after a Liberal and Conservative coalition voted against the bill. Bill C-218 marks the most successful attempt to reform Canada’s sports betting provisions, and legislators have demonstrated more support than ever before to push the initiative further along the legislative process.

The bill has garnered support from the Canadian Football League, the National Hocky League, and other professional groups. By including protections for the horse racing industry in the bill, the Conservative party also gained support from Liberal legislators and the equestrian community.

Ultimately, with the Canadian online gaming market estimated to generate between US$4.3 billion and US$5.4 billion annually, the legislature is eager to implement new regulations and licensing rules by the end of the year.  According to Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey who was quoted in an article by the Canadian Press and TSN, the legislature plans “to land the framework by this fall.”

 

Earlier this week, the deadline expired for the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to appeal the First Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision released earlier this year which affirmed a declaratory ruling entered by a lower court declaring that the federal Wire Act is only applicable to wagering on “any sporting event or contest” and that it does not have broader implications to other forms of online wagering.   Detailed information on the First Circuit decision is summarized in Vol. 27, Issue 3 of the Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

Big picture, the case arose as a result of the DOJ’s issuance of an Opinion in 2018 entitled “Reconsidering Whether the Wire Act Applies to Non-Sports Gambling” in which the DOJ took a modified position from a prior, 2011 Opinion, and stated that the Wire Act was “not uniformly limited to gambling on sporting events or contests.”  This triggered concern on the part of the online gaming industry and many state lotteries who conduct online lotteries across state lines.

The lack of an appeal by the DOJ allows the First Circuit decision to stand as the key federal precedent.  Additionally, many are hoping that the DOJ under the Biden Administration will rescind the 2018 Opinion to provide the maximum amount of clarity on the issues involved.

 

According to a press release, Michigan internet gaming operators reported $94.85 million in internet gaming gross receipts for May. Internet sports betting operators received $19.46 million in total gross sport betting receipts and reported a total handle of $237.6 million for the month.

“Adjusted gross receipts for internet casino gaming were up two-tenths of a percent compared with April, which means state, city and tribal governments received more revenue,” said Henry Williams, Michigan Gaming Control Board executive director. “The event-driven sports betting handle dropped 4.9 percent compared with April. While Michigan does allow wagering on horse racing’s largest events through its regulated track and advance deposit wagering, it does not permit wagering on horse racing through the online sportsbooks.”

Taxes and payments are based on adjusted gross receipts, which were $89.06 million for internet gaming and $9.88 million for internet sports betting during May. The operators paid approximately $18.7 million in taxes and payments to the State of Michigan for May, with Internet gaming contributing $18.1 million and internet sports betting contributing $615,153.

For internet gaming, the state receives 70% of the total tax from the commercial operators and 80% of the total payment from tribal operators. The tax and payment rate ranges from 20% to 28% based on yearly adjusted gross receipts.

For internet sports betting, commercial operators pay 70% of the 8.4% tax to the state and 30% to the city of Detroit. Tribal operators make an 8.4% payment on adjusted gross receipts to the State of Michigan.

The three Detroit Casinos – MotorCity Casino, MGM Grand Detroit, and Greektown Casino – reported city wagering taxes and municipal service fees of $5.58 million to the City of Detroit during May for:

  • Internet gaming taxes and fees: $5.2 million
  • Internet sports betting taxes and fees: $378,632

Tribal operators reported making total payments of $1.9 million of wagering payment to the tribes’ governing bodies according to the MGCB.

From the Jan. 22 launch through May 31, aggregate internet gaming adjusted gross receipts totaled $369.4 million and aggregate internet sports betting adjusted gross sports betting receipts were $23.7 million.

During May, 13 operators were authorized for one or both forms of online wagering. Details for each operator’s internet gaming and internet sports betting results are available in tables published on the MGCB website.

 

The Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) on June 22 issued a Call for Nominations for the Jens Halle Memorial Award Honoring Excellence in Commercial Gaming Professionalism and the Peter Mead Memorial Award Honoring Excellence in Gaming Media & Communications.

AGEM previously announced the creation of this unique awards program six years ago to acknowledge the lasting impacts on gaming by two distinctive industry veterans following their unexpected deaths in 2015.

Nomination submissions of 300-700 original words identifying current gaming professionals must be received via email at Marcus.Prater@AGEM.org by Aug. 31, 2021, and must meet the following criteria that aim to capture the unique attributes displayed by Halle and Mead during their storied careers:

Jens Halle Memorial Award Honoring Excellence in Commercial Gaming Professionalism

“Nominees must have experience working in the global gaming supplier sector for a minimum of 10 years and possess the following traits and qualities that Jens displayed throughout his working life: Professionalism, business success, international scope, attention to detail and timely follow-up; a willingness to ‘go the extra mile,’ both figuratively and literally; a sense of humanity in an oft-times cutthroat business; a recognition of the importance of a handshake and a fair deal for all; and a dedication to the health of the industry as a whole.”

Peter Mead Memorial Award Honoring Excellence in Gaming Media & Communications

“Nominees must have experience working in the mainstream media, gaming trade press or individual gaming company PR/communications for a minimum of 10 years and possess the following traits and qualities that Peter displayed throughout his working life: Quality reporting and communication with an emphasis on personal contact to generate ideas and gather information; taking risks and questioning the status quo; challenging the industry to consider new ideas; and identifying trusted partners to improve the overall product.”

Award winners will be announced at G2E in Las Vegas in  October.

 

More than 40 legislators from at least 17 states will be among the 200-plus attendees when the National Council of Legislators from Gaming

States (NCLGS) holds its Summer Meeting, July 11-13 at the InterContinental Magnificent Mile. This will be the first national in-person gaming conference to take place in more than a year.

Public registration at early-bird rates, the conference agenda, and reservations at the host hotel are available here. NCLGS has also provided a list of nearby first-class hotels to accommodate the anticipated overflow for overnight guests. Registration is open and you can register here.

This year NCLGS welcomes two organizations that are co-locating their meetings with the Summer Meeting: the GLI University Mid-Year Gaming Regulators Seminar 2021, which takes place July 11, and the Association of Racing Commission International (ARCI) Model Rules and Board Meetings, July 12 -13.

The NCLGS Summer Meeting has been approved for 8.5 credits by the Nevada Board of Continuing Legal Education, underscoring its prominence as a vital gaming forum.

Both NCLGS and the host InterContinental will fully adhere to CDC, state and local guidelines that govern public events.

For conference sponsorship information, contact events@nclgs.org. Legislators and others seeking NCLGS membership information should contact Josh Faber at jfaber@nclgs.org.

The Michigan Gaming News Letter

MGCB Authorizes New Exemptions for Non-Gaming Businesses and Approves Online Operator Licenses

At its June 8 meeting, the Michigan Gaming Control Board passed Resolution No. 2021-03 to reduce the licensing and reporting requirements for certain small, non-gaming businesses and online gaming vendors. The resulting changes are reflected in an updated interpretation of Rule 432.1322(4) of the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act.

Pursuant to the MGCB’s power to “exempt any person or field of commerce from the supplier-licensing requirements of its administrative rules,” the resolution automatically exempts businesses providing no more than $100,000 worth of nongaming-related goods or services to any casino licensee within a 12-month period. In a press release announcing the resolution, the MGCB noted that this automatic exemption is a $50,000 increase from previous exemption provisions.

The resolution also provides for automatic exemption of any vendor registered under either the Lawful Internet Gaming Act or the Lawful Sports Betting Act on the basis that the licensing of these entities is not considered essential to protect the public interest. Each exemption is contingent upon a vendor providing less than $400,000 of nongaming-related goods and services to any casino licensee.

Additionally, the MGCB extended the term of each exemption from one year to five years. Any current exemption, however, will remain effective until the expiration of its one-year term. If renewed, each exemption will assume a five-year term.

These updates to licensing and reporting requirements, according to MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams, will “allow more small businesses to supply things like food and beverages, snow removal or laundry services to the Detroit casinos without disclosing information to the MGCB.” And the exemptions will improve operating efficiency of online gaming vendors by enabling them to “skip the added paperwork.”

At its meeting, the MGCB also approved the pending online gaming operator license applications of ten operators. In addition to the three Detroit casinos, the licensed operators include seven tribal gaming entities: Bay Mills Gaming Authority, Gun Lake Tribal Gaming Authority, Hannahville Indian Community, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Little River Casino Resort Enterprise of Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Pokagon Gaming Authority.

 

In a recent press release, the American Gaming Association (AGA) announced a partnership with DraftKings to promote the AGA’s “Have A Game Plan. Bet Responsibly” public service campaign. DraftKings plans to implement the campaign into all ten of its retail sportsbooks throughout the United States.

The AGA developed the Have a Game Plan campaign as an educational resource to instruct consumers on responsible sports betting practices and to increase problem gambling awareness. As part of its efforts, DraftKings will install physical and electronic signage at its retail properties to better inform patrons about the signs of problem gambling while instructing patrons on safe and responsible gaming practices.

Christine Thurmond, DraftKings’ Director of Responsible Gaming, is “confident that implementing Have A Game Plan alongside [DraftKings’] responsible gaming messaging and tools will enable us to increase customer exposure to responsible gaming practices and ultimately foster safer play.”

DraftKings will also expand its efforts to its existing range of digital marketing and social media accounts. In addition to promoting responsible gambling behavior through its social channels, DraftKings will use its own existing responsible gaming framework, “It’s More Fun When It’s For Fun,” to support player protection practices.

This flagship collaboration marks the first comprehensive expansion of the AGA’s campaign throughout the national retail sportsbook industry. And through its involvement, DraftKings can further its responsible gaming mission to “mitigate harm and protect vulnerable populations using groundbreaking technology, providing training and resources for employees and customers, and by supporting evidence-based research.”

The expansion of sports betting throughout the United States has increased the importance of responsible, safe gambling practices. By “bringing the Have A Game Plan campaign to DraftKings’ extensive network of sportsbooks and customers,” the AGA is confident it can more successfully “keep bettors safe and educated about responsible gaming.”

 

According to a press release, the three Detroit casinos reported $109.69 million in monthly aggregate revenue in May while continuing to operate at limited capacity due to COVID-19 health concerns. Table games and slots generated $107.94 million in revenue, and retail sports betting produced revenue of $1.75 million.

The three Detroit casinos reported $125.8 million in aggregate revenue from slots and table game during May 2019 while operating at full capacity.  All three casinos were closed during May 2020.

The May market shares were:

  • MGM, 42 percent
  • MotorCity, 36 percent
  • Greektown, 22 percent

During May 2021, table games and slot revenue was up a fractional 0.5 percent when compared to April 2021.

The three Detroit casinos paid $8.7 million in gaming taxes to the State of Michigan.  The casinos also reported submitting $12.8 million in wagering taxes and development agreement payments to the City of Detroit in May.

The Detroit casinos reported retail sports betting total handle of $20,196,877 during May.  Total gross receipts were $1,769,271.  In qualified adjusted gross receipts, MotorCity led the way with $709,796, followed by Greektown with $636,547 and MGM with $402,223.  Qualified adjusted gross receipts are gross sports betting receipts minus the monetary value of free play incentives provided to and wagered by bettors. The casinos paid $66,096 in retail sports betting tax to the state and reported submitting $80,784 in retail sports betting taxes to the City of Detroit.

For April, fantasy contest operators reported total adjusted revenues of $1,484,842 and paid $124,727 in taxes. Through April  30, fantasy contest operators reported total aggregate adjusted revenues of $5.7 million and paid $480,199 in taxes.

 

The American Gaming Association’s “Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker” report provides monthly, quarterly, and year-to-date gross gaming revenue at both a state and national level. The Q1 2021 report revealed that April 2021 generated commercial gaming’s second highest level of revenue of all time, with combined revenue from traditional casino gaming, sports betting, and iGaming reaching $4.44 billion nationally.

April revenue closely tracked the current record revenue generated in March 2021, down by one percent from the $4.8 billion generated that month. Traditional gaming revenue (slots and table games) contributed $3.79 billion to the April total, with iGaming generating $299.9 million and sports betting generating $283.4 million. These strong results are corroborated by the fact that only three of the twenty-five states that authorized casino gaming as of April 2019 witnessed year-over-year decreases in revenue.

The AGA report attributed all-time high slot machine revenue and nearly pre-pandemic table game revenue levels to the reduction of operating restrictions in casinos, with eight of the twenty-five traditional casino states permitting casinos to operate at full capacity.

Further illustrating the successful quarter, the report revealed that, in the states that track casino admissions, traditional casino revenue per visitor increased between 23% and 49% when compared to April 2019 revenue.

Sports betting and iGaming played a significant role in boosting April 2021 revenue above pre-pandemic levels. With more than double the number of commercial sports betting jurisdictions, by the end of the 2021 March Madness tournament, commercial sports book revenue surpassed April 2020 levels by nearly 440%. While iGaming witnessed its first month-to-month decline since November 2020, combined revenue from both iGaming and sports betting accounted for more than 13.1% of U.S. commercial gaming revenue in April 2021.

The AGA’s report, including data and illustrations, can be found here.

 

Four Winds Casinos announced that they are hiring for multiple Table Game positions in all three casino locations in Michigan and in the South Bend casino.  They will offer dealer training school beginning Tuesday, June 15th and Saturday, June 19th, with classes held two days a week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays or Saturdays and Sundays.  Prior registration is required.  Four Winds will also hold job fairs in Portage, Indiana on Tuesday June 22nd and in Michigan City, Indiana on Wednesday, June 23rd.  More information can be found at here.

 

Gun Lake Casino will be hosting multiple job fairs in the upcoming weeks as it gears up for the grand opening of its $100 million expansion later this summer.  It will host job fairs on Tuesday June 15th at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market from 3:00-8:00 p.m., on Wednesday June 16th at Harvest Buffet on property from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. and on Monday June 28th at Harvest Buffet on property from 4:00-9:00 p.m.

“Gun Lake Casino is excited to introduce a variety of career opportunities to West Michigan job seekers. We pride ourselves on setting industry standards for starting wages, comprehensive benefits, educational opportunities and more,” stated Jose Flores, vice president and general manager for Gun Lake Casino. “There is no better time to begin a career in the entertainment industry. As the casino continues to expand, so do the opportunities for our team.”

For more information, please see here.

The Michigan Gaming News Letter

iGamingBusiness Hosts Webinar on the Evolving Role of eSports Betting

On May 25, iGamingBusiness hosted a webinar discussing “The role of eSports in the evolving land-based sector.” The webinar offered insight from Seth Schorr, Chairman of the Downtown Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, and Jennifer Roberts, the General Counsel at WynnBET, on the growing importance of eSports in existing land-based casino establishments.

As the only major competitive sporting event during the COVID-19 pandemic, eSports witnessed significant growth in 2020. Most of this growth, however, occurred online, leading land-based casinos to search for new ways to integrate these activities into their operations. The unique ability to simultaneously bet on eSports competitions in-person and online has encouraged casinos to find the best way to appeal to customers on both fronts.

On the digital front, Ms. Roberts emphasized the ability of brick-and-mortar casinos to attract players through their brands’ existing reputations. In this way, casinos can extend their existing luxury and hospitality experiences into the digital realm to attract players.

Brick and mortar casinos face a different challenge in their efforts to draw eSports fans into their establishments. Mr. Schorr and Ms. Roberts both urge casinos to focus on developing amenities and accommodations that cater to the new, often younger generation of gamer-guests. Whether offering low-cost food options or streaming eSports competitions in casino restaurants and bars, according to Ms. Roberts, operators “must understand the audience.”

The cycle from gaming demand to integrated betting community adds another dimension to the challenge of attracting eSports fans into casinos. Ms. Roberts commented on the “vicious cycle” that relies on strong consumer demand. Without high levels of demand, operators will lack the drive to seek approval for eSports betting events. And without regulatory approval, eSports betting will remain an elusive opportunity for brick-and-mortar casinos.

To generate the requisite demand for eSports betting, Mr. Schorr expressed the importance of investing in media that showcases the excitement of eSports betting in a manner that appeals to eSports fans. Effective media, according to Mr. Schorr, must highlight the ways in which casinos have adapted to the habits of eSports fans, for example, by enabling interactive in-game betting, rather than single pre-game bets.

The legalization and regulation of eSports betting remains another essential step in attracting gamers into casinos. By promoting customer safety and ensuring game integrity, a regulated eSports betting industry will play a key role in turning an eSports fan into an eSports betting fan, according to Mr. Schorr.

Ultimately, the transition from eSports as an online-only betting experience to a brick-and-mortar casino attraction will depend on responsive marketing and regulatory efforts. And, as Ms. Roberts affirmed, it is “more than just games, but amenities that [will] appeal to the customer.”

 

On May 6, Ohio Senators Kirk Schuring, Niraj Antani, and Nathan Manning introduced SB 176 to legalize and regulate sports gaming in the State. The proposed bill is the culmination of the Senate Select Committee on Gaming’s series of hearings regarding the expansion of gaming in Ohio and represents the diverse views of professional sports teams, local businesses, state lottery officials, and large casino operators.

SB 176 includes 40 sportsbook licenses. Twenty licenses are considered Type A online licenses that can be issued to Ohio’s eleven existing casinos or racinos. Type A licensees are required to contract with online sportsbook operators, and there is no limit to the number of operators a licensee can partner with. The remaining twenty licenses are considered Type B retail licenses for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, such as those in bars, restaurants, bowling allies, or other small businesses.

During the Committee’s May 12 hearing on the bill, SB 176 was amended to allow any entity, including Ohio casinos and racinos, to apply for Type B licenses. However, these retail licenses were likely meant to appease concerned small business stakeholders that consider sports betting a new source of revenue. According to an Action Network article, the Committee clarified that non-gaming entities can qualify for Type A online licenses as long as they have or can create a “substantial presence” in Ohio.

The bill would allow the Ohio Casino Control Commission to administer all 40 licenses, each at a cost of $1 million, renewable every three years. SB 176 also proposes to tax net sports betting revenues at 10%. Most tax revenue would be directed towards education, while 2% would be reserved for addiction and problem gambling services.

In addition to the legalization of sports betting, SB 176 would authorize the Ohio Lottery Commission to offer $20 betting pools that allow participants to wager on the outcome of games. Winnings would be equally divided among the winners less the Commission’s 10% take.

SB 176 would also permit electronic bingo at veteran’s and fraternal organizations. And, the bill proposes the creation of a Select Committee on iLottery that will study the “potential effect of online lottery ticket sales on retail lottery ticket sales” in Ohio.

Ultimately, SB 176 represents comprehensive gaming expansion in Ohio. Senator Schuring hopes that the bill ushers in “broad-based economic development.” An Action Network article reported that, according to the Senator, SB 176 is “free market driven, and comes with oversight from existing Ohio agencies with gaming experience to make sure Ohioans are not being taken advantage of by illegal gaming.”

 

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”) will hold a virtual regular public meeting on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. The meeting will begin at 9:30 AM and will be accessible via Microsoft Teams.

June’s meeting will consider recommendations for approval of licenses for ten online gaming operators.  Additionally the MGCB will consider recommendations on occupational license applications, suitability of key persons, and acknowledgements of violations. The meeting will also consider Executive Director Henry Williams’ recommendations regarding pending supplier license and supplier license renewal requests. The full agenda for the March meeting may be found here.

The meeting is virtually open to the public, and comments from the public are welcomed and encouraged during the public comment portion of the meeting.

The meeting will be accessible to the public via Zoom at this link.

 

Two recent House Bills (HB 4823 and HB 4824) which would remove a $3 Million cap on money the Agriculture Equine Industry Development Fund receives from Internet gaming revenue in and Internet Sports Betting in Michigan passed the Michigan House on Wednesday.  Both bills have now been transmitted to the Senate for consideration and have been assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee chaired by Senator Kevin Daley.  Opponents of the bills have noted that such an increase in Equine Funding will divert money away from other state purposes such as the School Aid Fund.

 

According to a press release on June 3, 2021 – FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek MI, will conduct open interviews during a job fair on Saturday, June 12, in the FireKeepers Event Center.

Interviews will be available from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Applicants will be able to learn about, apply and interview for positions in several departments throughout the property including Finance, Food & Beverage, Hotel, Marketing, and Security. Human Resources will be on site to make offers on the spot.

Interviews will be socially distanced, and will follow all of FireKeepers COVID-19 safety protocols, including requiring masks for non-vaccinated guests.

The Michigan Gaming News Letter

Henry Williams Confirmed as New MGCB Executive Director

With a roll call vote of the Michigan Senate on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, Henry Williams was confirmed as the new executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board.  The Senate approved his appointment by a roll call vote of 34 in favor, 1 against, and one abstention due to an excused absence.  Mr. Williams was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to succeed Rick Kalm, who recently concluded a 14 year term as executive director.  Mr. Williams has worked for the MGCB since 2001 in a wide variety of roles and will now serve a six year term as executive director.

“I am honored to begin my appointment Monday as executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board,” said Henry Williams following his confirmation by the Michigan Senate this week. “I look forward to the agency’s continuing success and thank outgoing Executive Director Richard Kalm for his leadership and the opportunities he provided that paved the way for my appointment.

 

In February of 2020 the Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”) issued a press release announcing that more than a dozen businesses (including the Waterford Redemption Center and the Burton Redemption Center) were issued cease-and-desist orders to stop offering illegal gambling games during 2019 through a joint enforcement effort by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office and the MGCB.

“Illegal gambling can lead to money laundering and other crimes that impact the safety and security of Michigan communities,” said Richard S. Kalm, Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”) executive director at the time. “Legal gambling is taxed and regulated, and taxes go back into the community as funding for K-12 education. An illegal gambling operation doesn’t support the community but instead siphons funds away from it.”

According to a press release issued at the time:

“MGCB investigators visited 14 businesses that claimed to operate redemption games, which are legal in Michigan. Investigators determined the locations instead were offering casino-style video slot machines for patrons’ use. Outcomes on these types of machines are based on chance and not on skill.”

“When given the opportunity to cease operations, each location chose to close rather than face potential criminal charges,” Kalm said. “An unlicensed gambling business operator can face a 10-year felony charge.”

 

https://www.michigan.gov/mgcb/0,4620,7-351-79131_57111-519419–,00.html

“Gambling regulations are in place for a reason, and when bad actors choose to ignore the law, they must be held accountable,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to work with our partners at the Michigan Gaming Control Board in putting a stop to these illegal operations.”

Last week, the Michigan Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case of Waterford Redemption Center v. Michigan Gaming Control Board, in which the plaintiffs sought declaratory relief to try to nullify a cease and desist letter that they had received from the MGCB with regard to their operation of facilities with various forms of games which the MGCB determined were illegal.   The Court of Claims in Michigan summarily dismissed the plaintiffs’ case in the lower court proceedings, and the operators involved appealed.   The oral argument can be viewed at the following link, starting at the 1:39 point:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6m-ykfuLwjs

Robert W. Stocker, II, attorney for the Waterford Redemption Center and the Burton Redemption Center, said his clients shut down their businesses in light of the cease and desist letter.  He argued that unless his clients can obtain declaratory relief from the courts, they will be required to reopen the businesses and face possible criminal sanctions to get a ruling on the matter.

Assistant Attorney General Felepe Hall argued that the recently passed Lawful Internet Gaming Act (“LIGA”) makes it clear that these games are illegal. The Assistant Attorney General argued that even if LIGA does not apply, the Court of Claims had been correct in granting summary disposition, as the issues involved are factual issues rather than a challenge to the constitutionality of a statute.  He went on to note that the operations involved had other problems with complying with the Michigan redemption game standards.  He likened the situation to that of a corner druggist operating without a pharmacy license.  He suggested that the operators should remain shut down given the problems with their operations fitting within the Penal Code exemptions.

MCL 750.301, a provision of the Michigan Penal Code, makes it clear that it is unlawful in Michigan to accept money or a valuable thing contingent on any type of uncertain outcome.

750.301 Accepting money or valuable thing contingent on uncertain event.

Sec. 301. Any person or his or her agent or employee who, directly or indirectly, takes, receives, or accepts from any person any money or valuable thing with the agreement, understanding or allegation that any money or valuable thing will be paid or delivered to any person where the payment or delivery is alleged to be or will be contingent upon the result of any race, contest, or game or upon the happening of any event not known by the parties to be certain, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $1,000.00.

 

MCL 750.310b creates exceptions to this broad prohibition for “redemption games” meeting various technical requirements and that are subject to operational limitations.   According to the MGCB press release issued last year, the redemption game requirements were not being met by the operators involved.

As reported in The Michigan Gaming newsletter Volume 27, Issue 13, the American Gaming Association recently issued a White Paper entitled “SKILLED AT DECEPTION: How Unregulated Gaming Machines Endanger Consumers and Dilute Investments in Local Economies”.  The top recommendation that the AGA made in the whitepaper is the following:

Law enforcement and policymakers must prioritize robust enforcement of laws to root out illegal and unregulated gaming machines. This includes enforcing laws already in force but also clarifying the law to make the illegality of these machines clear where any ambiguity exists.

If the Court of Claims decision is upheld by the Court of Appeals in the Waterford Redemption Center case, the MGCB’s practice of issuing cease and desist letters to operations that they view as violating the law can continue.  Alternatively, if the Court of Appeals reverses the case, the Michigan Court of Claims may then be put in the position of making determinations with regard to ambiguous gaming machines and whether they fit within exemptions existing under the Penal Code.

Court of Appeals decisions typically take several months to be decided after oral arguments, thus a ruling on the case may be issued later this summer.

 

In a press release on May 11, 2021, the American Gaming Association (“AGA”) announced the 1st quarter results of its Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker.  Commercial gaming revenue across the United States totaled $11.13 billion, matching the 3rd quarter 2019 as the highest ever.  AGA noted that the quarterly results showed a 4.1% increase over pre-pandemic performance in 1st quarter 2019 and represents a 17.7% increase over 1st quarter 2020.  Slot revenue accounted for $6.70 billion, table game revenue accounted for $1.62 billion, sports betting revenue accounted for $961.1 million and iGaming revenue accounted for $784.5 million in revenue.

“Today’s report shows gaming’s comeback is ahead of schedule,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our industry has faced numerous challenges head-on while still reopening responsibly and providing a safe, exciting environment for customers.  This is a testament to gaming’s hard work to help ensure our team members’ safety and well-being, which enabled us to reopen safely. We applied those same standards to our customers, whose clear pent-up demand was met by our responsible industry.”

The United States commercial market includes 30 states and the District of Columbia offering  some combination of casino gaming, sports betting and iGaming.

 

According to a press release, Michigan internet gaming operators reported $94.85 million in internet gaming gross receipts for April. Internet sports betting operators received $20.38 million in total gross sport betting receipts and reported a total handle of $249.9 million for the month.

“While the sports betting handle dropped 30-plus percent, which we expected the month after March Madness, internet casino gaming adjusted gross receipts held steady with a slight two-tenths of a percent increase in April,” said Richard S. Kalm, MGCB executive director.

Taxes and payments are based on adjusted gross receipts, which were $88.87 million for internet gaming and $10.88 million for internet sports betting during April.  The operators paid approximately $18.1 million in taxes and payments to the State of Michigan for April, with Internet gaming contributing $17.8 million and internet sports betting contributing $312,824. As of April 23, 13 operators were authorized for one or both forms of online wagering. Details for each operator’s internet gaming and internet sports betting results are available in tables published on the MGCB website.

For internet gaming, the state receives 70% of the total tax from the commercial operators and 80% of the total payment from tribal operators. The tax and payment rate ranges from 20% to 28% based on yearly adjusted gross receipts.

For internet sports betting, commercial operators pay 70% of the 8.4% tax to the state and 30% to the city of Detroit. Tribal operators make an 8.4% payment on adjusted gross receipts to the State of Michigan.

The three Detroit Casinos – MotorCity Casino, MGM Grand Detroit, and Greektown Casino – reported paying wagering taxes and municipal service fees of $5.4 million to the City of Detroit during April:

  • Internet gaming taxes and fees: $5.2 million
  • Internet sports betting taxes and fees: $186,939

Tribal operators reported making total payments of $1.8 million to the tribes’ governing bodies, according to the MGCB.

From the Jan. 22 launch through April 30, aggregate internet gaming adjusted gross receipts totaled $280.3 million and aggregate internet sports betting adjusted gross sports betting receipts were $13.9 million.

An online gaming and sports betting revenue distribution table is available on the agency’s website.

 

According to a press release, the three Detroit casinos reported $108.98 million in monthly aggregate revenue in April while continuing to operate at limited capacity due to COVID-19 health concerns. Table games and slots generated $107.44 million in revenue, and retail sports betting produced revenue of $1.54 million.

Although monthly revenue fell 3.1 percent when compared to March 2021, through April 30, gaming revenue for table games and slots for the three Detroit casinos was up by 30.9 percent compared to the same period last year.  On March 16, 2020, the three Detroit casinos closed and remained closed during April 2020 due to coronavirus-related concerns.

The April market shares were:

  • MGM, 40 percent
  • MotorCity, 37 percent
  • Greektown, 23 percent

During April, the three Detroit casinos paid $8.7 million in gaming taxes to the State of Michigan.  The casinos also reported submitting $12.8 million in wagering taxes and development agreement payments to the City of Detroit during April.

The Detroit casinos reported retail sports betting total handle of $24,337,682 during April.  Total gross receipts were $1,542,530.  In qualified adjusted gross receipts, MGM led the way with $604,701, followed by MotorCity with $420,605 and Greektown with $517,224.  Qualified adjusted gross receipts are gross sports betting receipts minus the monetary value of free play incentives provided to and wagered by bettors. The casinos paid $58,308 in retail sports betting tax to the state and reported submitting $71,265 in retail sports betting taxes to the City of Detroit.

For March, fantasy contest operators reported total adjusted revenues of $889,532 and paid $74,721 in taxes. Through March 31, fantasy contest operators reported total aggregate adjusted revenues of $4.2 million and paid $355,472 in taxes.

The Michigan Gaming News Letter

NCLGS Examines the State of the Industry and Future for Land-Based Expansion

On May 6, 2021, the National Council of Legislators of Gaming States held a webinar program entitled: “Land Based Gaming: Still Expanding.”  The program was moderated by Keith Pickard, NCLGS President and Nevada Senator.   The program looked at the expansion of land-based gaming and examined where is the expansion taking place, and how is this trend evolving.

Howard Glaser, Scientific Games, Global Head of Government Affairs and Special Initiatives presented information that looked at 1) post-pandemic resilience; 2) state government arguments for additional expansion and 3) the outline for historic expansion and reinvestment by the industry.

With respect to data looking at what the forecast is for the industry in a post-pandemic environment, Mr. Glaser highlighted early results in several states.  For example, he noted that in Pennsylvania monthly gross gaming revenues are up 25% over pre-pandemic numbers, and in Indiana four of five casinos beat pre-pandemic performance for the month of March.

Mr. Glaser noted that the industry is set for a historic period of expansion with the following areas of specific significance:

Illinois will be adding six new casinos and slots at racetracks via the 2019 gaming bills;

Florida has entered a new compact that will see the Seminole Tribe build three more casinos;

Virginia is moving forward with the identification of up to five new projects across the state; and Nebraska; Alabama; Indiana; New York; North Carolina have expansion plans in the works and it appears that Texas may able be entering the mix in the near future.

Mr. Glaser noted that Texas is a great example of a jurisdiction that has seen an in interest legalizing mobile sports wagering and how that has helped state officials see the benefits of embracing the integration of the digital experience with the traditional bricks and mortar industry.   Mr. Glaser noted that the economic data does not support the premise that as the industry expands into online/mobile gaming the traditional land based industry is adversely impacted and capital investment is being lost.

Outside of new market growth, Mr. Glaser noted that the industry is also reinvesting in the traditional land-based inventory at a record pace.   Caesars is investing $400 million in Atlantic City; Bally’s/Twin River is investing $100s of millions in Las Vegas and across its regional properties.

Importantly, Mr. Glaser noted that the legislative and regulatory partners that support the legal and regulated gaming industry need to help in stamping out illegal and gray market gaming as these offerings directly impact businesses that invest capital to support land-based casino jobs, as well as the tax revenues that are returned to communities across the United States.

Persons interesting in learning more about this webinar or future programs are encouraged to visit:

https://www.nclgs.org/index.php/events/summer-webinar-series

 

Yesterday, the Ohio Senate has introduced legislation that would legalize sports wagering in the state.  Sen. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, who led a select committee that studied sports gambling in the early months of 2021, told the Ohio Capital Journal that lawmakers see the issue less as a matter of state revenue generation and more about regulating an activity that many Ohioans are already involved with.  Senate Schuring stated in a Thursday news conference that:   “Gaming is here today in Ohio and all we want to do is put guardrails around it to make sure it’s done correctly.”   Below please find a link to the Bill as well as to a news report published by the Ohio based Statehouse News Bureau.

https://search-prod.lis.state.oh.us/solarapi/v1/general_assembly_134/bills/sb176/IN/00/sb176_00_IN?format=pdf

https://www.statenews.org/post/senate-sports-betting-bill-gives-authority-casino-regulators

 

The Pokagon Band Tribal Council is very pleased that Governor Eric J. Holcomb visited South Bend to complete a ceremonial signing of the bill that ratifies the Class III Gaming Compact, a first in Indiana’s history and also a first for Native Americans as the Pokagon Band is the only federally recognized Tribe in the State of Indiana.  It is also the first piece of Pokagon Band legislation passed in Indiana.  This concludes the State of Indiana’s approval process and the Compact will now be sent to the U.S. Department of the Interior for review.

Having a Class III Gaming Compact with Indiana will enable us to operate our South Bend casino, Four Wind South Bend, in a similar manner as our three other Four Winds Casinos in Michigan and the commercial casinos in Indiana.  Additional revenue generated from Four Winds South Bend will support essential programs and services for not only our nearly 6,000 Tribal Citizens and other Native Americans living in the region, but also Indiana residents.

We appreciate the willingness of Governor Eric J. Holcomb and Sara Gonso Tait, Executive Director of the Indiana Gaming Commission, to negotiate the Compact in a timely and cooperative manner, and the efforts of Senator Ryan Mishler, Senator David Niezgodski, Senator Linda Rodgers, Senator Jon Ford, and Representative Dr. Tim Brown.  We would also like to thank the Indiana General Assembly for their approval.  This process has demonstrated the value of the ongoing government-to-government relationship between the State of Indiana and Pokagon Band.

We look forward to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s review of the Compact, and hopefully approval in the near future.

 

Earlier this week, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced several appointments to the Horse Racing Advisory Commission (“Commission”).   The Commission  was created within the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to establish procedures governing the operation and promotion of horse racing in this state and make recommendations to the Legislature that would improve the regulatory structure of horse racing with a goal of maintaining its long-term viability in Michigan. All of the appointments took immediate effect as they were not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate process.  The appointments to the Commission included the following individuals:

  • Thomas J. Barrett, of Novi, is the president of the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association. He is also the vice president for The State Bank. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from John Carroll University. Mr. Barrett is reappointed to represent statewide horse racing associations for a term commencing Apr. 30 and expiring Oct. 31, 2024.
  • Michael Carlo, of Northville, is the operations manager for Northville Downs. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Cincinnati. Mr. Carlo is reappointed to represent owners or operators of horse racetracks in this state for a term commencing Apr. 30 and expiring Oct. 31, 2024.
  • William G. Frank, DVM, of Warren, is a retired department analyst for horseracing programs for the Michigan Gaming Control Board and the former official veterinarian for the Office of Racing Commissioner. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University. Dr. Frank is appointed to represent veterinarians for a term commencing Apr. 30 and expiring Oct. 31, 2024. He succeeds Frank Nickels whose term expired Oct. 31, 2020.
  • Brian D. Nielsen, Ph.D., of Mason, is a professor of equine exercise physiology at Michigan State University. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. in Animal Science, Equine Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Texas A&M University. Dr. Nielsen is appointed to represent an individual who has knowledge about and expertise in horse racing in this state for a term commencing Apr. 30 and expiring at the pleasure of the Governor. He succeeds Don Ryker whose term expired Oct. 31, 2020. Additionally, Dr. Nielsen will serve as Chair of the Commission.
  • Joseph L. Rivet, of Bay City, is the deputy director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Master of Business Administration from Michigan State University. Mr. Rivet is appointed to represent the designee of the Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for a term commencing Apr. 30 and expiring at the pleasure of the Governor. He succeeds James Kober whose term expired Oct. 31, 2020.

 

On Monday of this week, the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) opened registration for the 2021 National Conference on Gambling Addiction and Responsible Gambling. The theme is ‘Embracing Change Together.’ Due to the pandemic, all activities are online. The Main Conference with unlimited available seating will be held on four afternoons in July and recordings will be available for a limited time afterward to registered attendees. Intensive Seminars with limited seating will be held over the course of four afternoons in June. To register, and to view the program schedule and session abstracts, visit bit.ly/NCPG-Conf.

“While the pandemic forced this year’s National Conference on Gambling Addiction and Responsible Gambling to be online again, the quality of the programming is as comprehensive and thought-provoking as ever,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of NCPG. “We picked the theme of ‘Embracing Change Together’ because the unprecedented wave of gambling expansion requires collaboration between all the stakeholders to properly address problem gambling. Registering for NCPG’s National Conference is a good step in the journey to achieve that important objective.”

Now in its 35th iteration, the conference is the oldest and largest annual National Conference that brings together people from all facets of healthcare, research, government and the gambling industry.

The Michigan Gaming News Letter

Senate Advice and Consent Committee Hears from MGCB Executive Director Appointee Henry Williams

On Thursday of this week, the Senate Advice and Consent Committee held a hearing on the Governor’s appointment of Henry Williams to serve as the new Executive Director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”).   Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Mr. Williams appointment last Friday.  As previously reported in Volume 27, Issue 14 of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter,  Mr. Williams has worked for the MGCB since 2001 serving in a wide variety of roles including management responsibilities for regulation and enforcement, employee licensing, and casino operations.    Most recently he has been a Deputy Director of the Casino Operations Division, and provided oversight for enforcement and employee licensing.   In a press release issued in connection with his appointment, current MGCB Executive Director Rick Kalm stated: “I have worked closely with Henry for 14 years and promoted him to his current MGCB position as deputy director. I believe Gov. Whitmer has made a good choice in appointing Henry to be the next executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board.”

At Thursday’s hearing, Mr. Williams met and testified to the Committee for over an hour, providing his insights of his philosophy on proper regulation and enforcement with regard to the gaming industry.  He made it clear that his philosophy is to provide a service to the industry ensuring proper regulation and to look for ways, within the confines of the Act, the Rules and the Internal Controls to eliminate unnecessary or overly burdensome regulatory requirements.   “I see it as a service to the industry, . . these are our customers”, he said.    “Throughout my career with the Gaming Control Board, I always like to review the Act, the Rules and the Internal Controls.  If we put some barriers in place for those businesses to operate, I like to look at those to see how we can scale those back.  If it is not codified that this has to be done, it protects the interests of the citizens of the state and ensures that there is fair and honest gaming, my question always is what is the risk?  As the industry comes and we review it, take a long look at it, a hard look at it, if they are right they are right. If there is no reason we should do it, I always look to scale them back.  I will continue to do that.”

Mr. Williams also addressed the need to be respectful of the sovereignty of tribal operators, and to be upfront and honest with an open door policy.   He gave a lot of praise to the tribes for the input they provided on the administrative rules for the rollout of iGaming and online sports betting.   Mr. Williams spoke on how he would guide his staff to strike the right balance in working with Tribes and stated he would emphasize: “educating our staff on the difference of the tribe’s sovereignty versus our oversight of what is going on online and ensuring that we maintain the dignity and respect that we should show to any other nation.”

The Senate Advice and Consent Committee intends to hold a vote on the appointment on Thursday, May 6th.  A roll call vote of the Senate is necessary to confirm Mr. Williams’ appointment.

 

Bills were introduced in the Michigan Senate on Wednesday of this week seeking to allow video gaming experiences at Michigan racetracks.  SB 396 was introduced by Senator Dan Lauwers (R-25th District) as the lead sponsor, and seeks to amend the law to permit historic race wagering.  Additionally, SB 397 was introduced by Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (R-27th District) seeking to permit video lottery terminals at horse tracks.   Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D-23rd District), who is listed as a co-sponsor of both bills, also introduced SB 398 to allow casinos to act as third party facilitators with respect to horse racing wagers.

All of these bills were immediately referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee which held a first hearing on the bills on Thursday of this week.  No vote was taken on the bills, only testimony from the sponsors of the bills, supporters, and cards expressing both support and opposition to the bills was given.   The bills are expected to be taken up again by the Committee in mid-May.

 

On April 23rd, President Joe Biden nominated Bryan Newland to the position of Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs.  Per the U.S. Department of Interior website, “The Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs assists and supports the Secretary of the Interior in fulfilling the United States’ trust responsibility to the Federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages and individual Indian trust beneficiaries, as well as in maintaining the Federal-Tribal government-to-government relationship.”

A White House statement issued in connection with the nomination states the following:

Bryan Newland is a citizen of Bay Mills Indian Community (Ojibwe), and was born and raised on the Bay Mills Reservation on the southern shore of Lake Superior.  He recently completed his tenure as the elected President of Bay Mills Indian Community, where he previously served as Chief Judge of the Bay Mills Indian Community Tribal Court.  From 2009 to 2012, Newland served as a Counselor and Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of the Interior – Indian Affairs under President Obama.

Newland is a graduate of the Michigan State University College of Law, with a certificate from the Indigenous Law and Policy Center.  He also received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University.  He is married to Erica Newland, and they have two children – Graydon and Meredith.

The nomination now goes to the United States Senate for approval.

 

As in prior years, Michigan’s horse racing track, Northville Downs, will be simulcasting the Kentucky Derby on Saturday and accepting simulcast wagers.  In order to ensure compliance with the capacity limits that have been put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the track is requiring advance reservations to be made.   Information is available on the track’s website.

 

The Innovation Group, organizers of the Emerging Leaders of Gaming program, and Global Gaming Business magazine (GGB) announced this week the opening of their annual nomination process for the Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40, a program that recognizes young professionals making significant impacts in the casino gaming industry.

The nomination process is an open call to the industry, allowing stakeholders to nominate colleagues or themselves. Nominations are reviewed by an industry advisory board whose guidance informs the selection of the top 40 candidates. Individuals named to the Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40 are profiled in GGB, honored at an annual reception during Global Gaming Expo (G2E), and offered other opportunities for increased exposure across the industry.

“Now more than ever, Emerging Leaders of Gaming is an opportunity for young executives in gaming to connect, share ideas, and gain a competitive advantage,” said The Innovation Group President Michael Soll. “Thanks to GGB and continued industry support, this program has evolved into the industry’s quintessential leadership collaborative.”

Said Roger Gros, publisher of GGB, “Emerging Leaders of Gaming has become a showcase of talented young executives in the industry. Through mentorships, marketing, webinars, and seminars, these young people will develop into the leaders of the next generation of gaming.”

Nominations can be submitted through GGB’s website until August 13. The Emerging Leaders of Gaming Cocktail Event during G2E will be held on Wednesday, October 6 at SUSHISAMBA Las Vegas.

 

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi’s Four Winds Casinos have announced an upcoming job fair at the Silver Creek Event Center inside Four Winds New Buffalo on Tuesday, May 4, from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. According to the press release issued on April 29, on the spot hiring will be available for a variety of positions at any Four Winds Casino locations including New Buffalo, South Bend, Dowagiac, or Hartford. A sign-on bonus of $500 is available for anyone that joins the Four Winds casinos team in an eligible position before June 30.

Full-time positions with full benefits are available and include Beverage Servers, Bartenders, Barbacks, Food Attendants, Food Servers, Kitchen Assistants, Cooks, Dishwashers, Security, Housekeeping, Cashiers Cage and more. Job fair attendees can meet with hiring departments and human resources representatives to explore career opportunities.

Four Winds has invited interested parties to apply online at   fourwindscasino.com/employment.

To comply with health and safety protocols, all attendees at the job fair are required to complete a temperature check, answer health screening questions, wear a mask and practice social distancing.

 

The National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (“NCLGS”) recently announced a free webinar on Thursday, May 6that 1:00 p.m. entitled “Land Based Gaming: Still Expanding”.  The webinar will discuss which states are in process of and looking at expanding land-based casinos and how the recent expansion trend has evolved over the years.  The panel will be moderated by Nevada Senator Keith Pickard, the President of NCLGS, and will consist of Andy Abboud, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs of Las Vegas Sands, Geoff Atkinson, Senior Data Analyst at Management Science Associates, Howard Glaser, Global Head of Government Affairs and Special Initiatives at Scientific Games, and Joe Weinberg, CEO of Cordish Gaming and Cordish Global Cities Entertainment.  Juliann Barreto, CFO of Spectrum Gaming Group, will lead the Q & A portion of the webinar.  The webinar is sponsored by Scientific Games and IGT.  Interested persons can register here.

The Michigan Gaming News Letter

Mich. Gaming Control Board Executive Director Richard S. Kalm to leave post

Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director   Richard S. Kalm today announced in a press release that  he will leave his position following the successful launch of online gaming and sports betting. Kalm has offered to remain in his post until Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appoints a successor and the appointment is confirmed by the Michigan Senate.

“I’ve had a great run and accomplished my final goal with the successful launch of online gaming and sports betting,” Kalm said. “My career has been devoted to public service, and I have enjoyed serving the people of Michigan since 2007 as MGCB executive director. Our agency’s mission has grown since my initial appointment, and I am proud of the MGCB’s accomplishments during my tenure.”

 

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced via a press release the appointment of Henry L. Williams, Jr. as executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

“The mission of the Gaming Control Board is to ensure the conduct of fair, honest gaming,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “With the nomination of Henry Williams, I am confident that the board will continue protecting and advancing the interests of Michiganders and the state.”

Henry L. Williams, Jr. currently serves as the deputy director of the casino operations division for the Michigan Gaming Control Board. In his role, he provides oversight of the Enforcement Section, Employee Licensing, Gaming Lab, and the Disassociated Persons program. Williams has worked for the board since 2001, previously serving as a regulation and enforcement officer, regulation manager of the employee licensing section, and then acting deputy director before becoming deputy director of the casino operations division. Prior to his time with the MGCB, Williams was a social worker and served in various positions within state government as a juvenile justice worker, family independence specialist, protective services worker, and probation officer.

Williams is the board president for the Detroit Recovery Project, Inc. and a long-time participant of the Adopt-A-Child Program. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Marygrove College. Henry lives in Detroit with his wife Juvette and their daughter.

“This appointment affirms my life lessons to my daughter–what hard work, dedication, commitment, and treating people fairly with dignity can do,” said Williams.“I will be able to continue serving the citizens of the great State of Michigan as I have done over the past 24-years with pride and sincere joy.”

Williams is appointed for a six-year term which will commence after the approval of the Senate by a record roll call vote. He succeeds Richard Kalm who has served as the Executive Director of the MGCB since 2007, first appointed by Governor Granholm and then reappointed by Governor Snyder in 2013.

“I have worked closely with Henry for 14 years and promoted him to his current MGCB position as deputy director,” said Richard S. Kalm, MGCB executive director. “I believe Gov. Whitmer has made a good choice in appointing Henry to be the next executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board.”

“Mr. Williams is the consummate professional; he treats everyone with respect and courtesy regardless of position, both at the casinos and with his colleagues at the MGCB. We know Mr. Williams to be fair, respectful, and honest, with his primary mission being preserving and protecting the integrity of gaming in Michigan,” said Bruce Dall the President of Motor City Casino, John Drake the Vice President and General Manager of Greektown Casino, and David Tsai the President and COO of MGM Grand Casino. “In our view, there is no person more qualified than Mr. Williams to take the helm of the MGCB at this time. His decades of experience, and his understanding of both the casino industry and agency that regulates us are simply unique.”

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. It provides Detroit commercial casinos gaming operations licensing and regulation, licenses and regulates online gaming and sports betting operators, platform providers and suppliers, regulates pari-mutuel horse racing and casino-style charitable gaming, and audits tribal gaming compact agreement compliance. The executive director performs duties assigned by the five-member board related to the regulation of three casinos in Detroit and supervises the employees of the board.

 

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”) authorized the Gun Lake Band of Pottawatomi Indians of Michigan and their platform provider partner, Parx Interactive, to launch internet casino gaming under the Gun Lake/Parx brand at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 23 according to a press release issued by the MGCB.

“We welcome the addition of Gun Lake Casino and partner Parx to Michigan’s growing online gaming market of 13 operators and providers,” said Richard S. Kalm, MGCB executive director. “Their participation will generate revenue to support education, economic development and the Gun Lake Band’s tribal community.”

After all regulatory requirements are met, the Gun Lake Band will receive authorization to offer online sports betting at a later date.

Currently, 11 other operators and providers run both forms of gaming, and another operator and provider offers online sports betting only.

Authorized online gaming operators and their platform provider operators are listed on the MGCB website.

When Kalm was appointed in 2007, Detroit’s commercial casinos were still building their hotels. He soon faced the challenge of protecting the state’s interests during the Greektown Casino bankruptcy proceedings from 2008 until 2010.

Kalm also moved the agency’s headquarters to existing Cadillac Place state office space in Detroit from rented space in East Lansing.

“The agency was now closer to the entities we regulated, and we achieved cost savings,” he said.

During Kalm’s MGCB tenure, the agency’s mission grew from regulating the Detroit casinos and auditing the 12 federally recognized tribes’ compliance with gaming compacts signed with the State of Michigan.

Following a 2010 executive order, the MGCB became the regulator for pari-mutuel horse racing. Another executive order in 2012 moved oversight of millionaire parties, commonly known as charitable poker, to the MGCB from Michigan Lottery.

The MGCB added online gaming and sports betting regulation to its mission after Gov. Whitmer signed the gaming bills package in December 2019. Online gaming and sports betting is off to an impressive start in Michigan with a combined $259 million in gross receipts collected between the launch on Jan. 22, 2021, and March 30. The resulting tax revenue will help educate children, fund economic development and support tribal communities across the state.

“I appreciate the opportunity Governor Whitmer gave me to stay on and oversee the launch of online gaming,” Kalm said. “It has been my pleasure to work with everyone involved in online gambling and sports betting in Michigan, including the commercial and tribal casinos, the gaming suppliers, the Governor’s Office, other state departments and the Legislature.”

In 2020, Kalm oversaw the closures of the three Detroit commercial casinos and pari-mutuel racetrack Northville Downs due to COVID-19 public health concerns. The agency, while working remotely, concurrently developed rules for online gaming and sports betting, which were approved by the Michigan Legislature in early December and enabled the recent launch of online gaming and sports betting. Michigan was the first U.S. state to license both commercial and tribal casinos for online gaming and sports betting.

Kalm also guided the 2020 launch of mobile wagering on live and simulcast horse races.

“The agency adapted quickly in 2020, helping the casinos and the track shut down safely and developing guidelines for the resumption of business when the orders changed,” Kalm said. “As we note the success, we also need to keep problem gambling and prevention and treatment resources a part of the ongoing conversation about gambling in Michigan.”

The Michigan Gaming News Letter

Internet Gaming and Sports Betting Operators Report $127.4 Million in March Gross Receipts

According to a press release, Michigan internet gaming and sports betting operators reported $127.4 million in gross receipts for March 2021. Twelve operators conducted licensed internet gaming, and/or internet betting operation during the month of March.

In total, internet gaming gross receipts were $95.1 million. Internet sports betting operators received $32.3 million in total gross sports betting receipts, with a total handle of $359.5 million for March. The full report of internet gaming revenue broken down by operator may be found here. Internet sports betting broken down by operator may be found here.

“It looks like March Madness added a bounce to the sports betting handle, which jumped 19.1 percent from February, and internet gaming seemed to increase in popularity with monthly adjusted gross receipts going up 18 percent from February,” said Richard S. Kalm, Executive Director of The Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”). “This led to increases in taxes and payments, which means more funding for the City of Detroit, K-12 education, economic development and tribal communities.”

The operators paid a total of $17.8 million in taxes and payments to the State of Michigan for the month of March, with Internet gaming contributing $17.3 million and internet sports betting contributing $535,930.

For internet gaming, the state receives 70% of the total tax from the commercial operators and 80% of the total payment from tribal operators. The tax and payment rate ranges from 20% to 28% based on yearly adjusted gross receipts.

For internet sports betting, commercial operators pay 70% of the 8.4% tax to the state and 30% to the city of Detroit. Tribal operators make an 8.4% payment on adjusted gross receipts to the State of Michigan.

The three Detroit Casinos – MotorCity Casino, MGM Grand Detroit, and Greektown Casino – reported paying wagering taxes and municipal service fees of $5.2 million to the City of Detroit during March:

  • Internet gaming taxes and fees: $4.9 million
  • Internet sports betting taxes and fees:  $326,462

Tribal operators reported making total payments of $1.8 million to the tribes’ governing bodies, according to the MGCB.

An online gaming and sports betting revenue distribution table is available on the agency’s website.

 

Rick Kalm, the executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”), will join a panel in speaking at an upcoming webinar hosted by Global Gaming Expo, the American Gaming Association (“AGA”) and the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (“AGEM”) on tools in dealing with illegal unregulated gaming machines.  The seminar will occur on Thursday, April 22 at 2:00 p.m. eastern time and will consist of Mr. Kalm and additional panelists Ed Davis and Kevin Mullally, with Jess Feil of the AGA moderating the event.  Mr. Davis is the CEO of Edward Davis LLC Security and Management Consulting and a former Boston Police Commissioner, while Mr. Mullally is the Senior Vice President of Government Relations & General Counsel of GLI.  Ms. Feil is Vice President, Government Relations and Gaming Policy Counsel of the AGA. The webinar will focus on effective ways to collaborate with law enforcement, policymakers and regulators on the topic of unregulated gambling machines, along with educating consumers on how to identify and protect themselves from these illegal machines.  Interested parties can register here.

The seminar coincides with the AGA’s release of a whitepaper that is covered in more detail in this newsletter and is intended to address concerns raised from the recent growth of unregulated machines, including lack of testing, consumer protections, responsible gaming measures, and ultimately deprivation of legitimate gaming operations and economic impacts.  In an earlier press release announcing the partnership between AGEM and the AGA, Marcus Prater, the executive director of AGEM, stated: “The spread of these machines represents a serious threat to the overall regulated market that has invested billions in infrastructure while also creating thousands of jobs and substantial tax benefits in the communities they serve. Moreover, unregulated machines prey on confused players who see slot machine symbols and think they’re getting a fair chance when they absolutely are not.”

 

On April 12, 2021, the American Gaming Association issued a press release announces the publication of a new white paper that discusses the detriment and danger caused by unregulated gaming machines. The paper highlights the substantial benefits to consumers and communities that are jeopardized by unregulated gaming devices along with significant threats posed that mitigate many of the societal benefits produced by the regulated gaming industry.

Among several harms, the AGA notes unregulated gaming machines:

  • circumvent the stringent licensing requirements that make the regulated casino industry safe.
  • lack continual compliance and reporting · requirements that should accompany consumers at all times in gaming environments.
  • do not offer responsible gaming programs that protect consumers.
  • do not offer the economic benefits that flow from the regulated gaming industry due to their failure to generate tax revenues.
  • promote criminal activity such as money laundering, violent crime, and drug trafficking, often associated with illegal gaming devices.

To mitigate the detrimental effects of unregulated gaming, the AGA urges that the fight against illegal gaming machines “must remain a priority to protect consumer safety and promote the essential tax revenue and economic development provided by licensed gaming operations.”

Accordingly, the AGA recommends three steps to combat unregulated gaming: 1, policymakers “must prioritize robust enforcement of laws to root out illegal and unregulated gaming machines”; 2, states and communities must not simply authorize unregulated machines as a new revenue source, for allowing these machines to continue operating will reward bad behavior and erode investment made by regulated entities; and 3, other industries must “understand their responsibility to eliminate illegal gaming machines at their businesses” that put their customers at risk.

The AGA’s paper expresses the importance of a robust regulated gaming industry that promotes consumer safety and community well-being. “Only through cooperation with policymakers and law enforcement to protect against unregulated gaming machines,” the AGA believes, “will gaming continue to be an economic driver and entertainment innovator that protects consumers.”

 

The Department of Justice and the Department of Treasury recently announced that they will be hosting a training webinar focused on assisting casino employees in identifying and reporting human trafficking in casinos.  The webinar will take place on Tuesday, April 27 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. eastern time.  The seminar is intended to benefit employees whose job duties include monitoring of gaming activity, conducting transactions with customers, and monitoring and reporting AML compliance.  Topics covered will include identifying potential victims of trafficking as well as understanding how networks utilize casinos and online gambling to launder the proceeds of their criminal operations.  Interested persons can register here.

 

The National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (“NCLGS”) recently announced a free webinar on Thursday, May 6that 1:00 p.m. entitled “Land Based Gaming: Still Expanding”.  The webinar will discuss which states are in process of and looking at expanding land-based casinos and how the recent expansion trend has evolved over the years.  The panel will be moderated by Nevada Senator Keith Pickard, the President of NCLGS, and will consist of Andy Abboud, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs of Las Vegas Sands, Geoff Atkinson, Senior Data Analyst at Management Science Associates, Howard Glaser, Global Head of Government Affairs and Special Initiatives at Scientific Games, and Joe Weinberg, CEO of Cordish Gaming and Cordish Global Cities Entertainment.  Juliann Barreto, CFO of Spectrum Gaming Group, will lead the Q & A portion of the webinar.  The webinar is sponsored by Scientific Games and IGT.  Interested persons can register here.

 

In a press release dated April 19, 2021, the Gun Lake Tribe and Gun Lake Casino announced a $300 million expansion plan that will transform the current property into a hotel resort with expanded amenities.  The expansion will add 250,000 square feet to extend the property footprint west towards US-131 and will include the development of a  of a 4-diamond hotel, spa and restaurant.  Construction is slated to begin at the end of this summer current expansion, and the next phase of expansion will begin immediately follow its completion.

“It is with great pride that we reveal the largest expansion in Gun Lake Casino’s history.  Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to maintaining the reputation as a leading entertainment and gaming destination in Michigan,” said Sal Semola, president and chief operating officer of Gun Lake Casino.  “As a vital business in Allegan County, we recognize our ability to invest in our local community.  The elevation of our offered amenities drives our economy through tourism and directly impacts the livelihood of local citizens through the development of new job opportunities.”

The Michigan Gaming News Letter

MGCB Licenses Third Horse Racing Advance Deposit Wagering Provider Just in Time For the Resumption of Live Racing at Northville Downs

On Wednesday of this week, the Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Richard S. Kalm issued an order granting Xpress Bet a conditional temporary third-party facilitator license under the Horse Racing Law of 1995.   Sports bettors in Michigan now can place bets on live and simulcast pari-mutuel horse races using mobile wagering through Xpress Bet in addition to the already licensed and authorized third-party facilitators TVG Network and TwinSpires/Churchill Downs.

“Michigan horse racing fans now have a third option for betting on horse races from anywhere in the state using mobile wagering,” Kalm said. “It’s a win for horse racing fans who want more choices in convenient mobile wagering providers, and the horse racing industry hopes to tap additional funding through this betting format.”

In December 2019, Michigan’s Horse Racing Law was amended to allow a race meeting licensee to use contracted third-party firms to facilitate wagering on live and simulcast pari-mutuel racing. A bettor creates an account with the third-party facilitator and can use a mobile device or computer to place wagers on pari-mutuel races using the money on deposit. A simulcast wager is a bet on a horse race occurring outside of Michigan, such as the Kentucky Derby. The MGCB approved mobile wagering on horse races in June 2020.

The approval of Xpress Bet comes just in time for the resumption of live racing at Michigan’s only track, Northville Downs.  The track is holding live race meetings on Fridays and Saturdays starting April 2 continuing through June 26th.  Further information on the full live racing schedule is available on Northville Downs’ website.  http://northvilledowns.com/100-years-of-racing-in-northville/live-racing/

Northville Downs’ resumption of Live Racing will be in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines and protocols.  http://northvilledowns.com/100-years-of-racing-in-northville/covid-19-guidelines-for-customers-employees/

 

On Wednesday, March 31, the Ohio Senate’s Select Committee on Gaming conducted its final hearing for interested parties to voice their views on the expansion of gaming in the state to include sports betting. The gaming committee was commissioned in January to oversee “gaming regulation in Ohio and to analyze the industries’ economic impact on the state” and conducted nine hearings to explore the topic.  The committee received input from a variety of stakeholders, including professional Ohio sports teams, local businesses, state lottery officials, and large casino operators. In total, the committee heard from over 40 people.

A bill is expected to be put together by the end of April and introduced when the legislature returns from an Easter and Spring break.

At a press conference held in early March, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine expressed his confidence that the legalization and regulation of sports gaming “is inevitable and [is] coming to Ohio.” Ohio would become the twenty-sixth state to authorize sports gaming, if the legislature decides to do so.

 

In a press release issued March 31, 2021, the Nottawaseppi Huron Potawatomi Band (NHBP), owners and operators of the FireKeepers Casino Hotel, announced that it has recently contributed $15.6 million to the State of Michigan and the local revenue sharing board and that the combined revenue sharing payments paid to the State of Michigan and the local revenue sharing board have exceeded $233 million.  State and local revenue sharing payments are required under the terms of the compact the NHPB negotiated with the State of Michigan related to the operation of the FireKeepers casino since its opening 12 years ago.

The most recent payments totaled over $15.6 million, with payments to the State of Michigan totaling $10.7 million and local revenue sharing payments totaling over $4.9 million.  Overall, NHPB has contributed over $173.4 million to the State of Michigan and $59.7 million to the local revenue sharing board.  The payments to the local revenue sharing board have benefitted numerous local groups, including:

  • Harper Creek Community Schools
  • Calhoun County Road Commission
  • Emmett Township
  • Calhoun County
  • Calhoun Intermediate School District
  • Kellogg Community College
  • Willard Library
  • Athens Township
  • Marshall Township
  • City of Marshall
  • City of Battle Creek
  • Athens Area Schools
  • Village of Athens
  • Battle Creek Public Schools
  • Marshall Public Schools
  • Lakeview School District
  • Pennfield Schools

“Revenue sharing distributions are a source of enormous pride for NHBP Tribal Members, as well as the FireKeepers team,” stated Jamie Stuck, Tribal Council Chairperson of the NHBP. “To produce these numbers after being closed for 12-weeks truly speaks to the ability of our team to adapt to unforeseen and extremely difficult situations while retaining a focus on creating a safe environment for guests and delivering award-winning service.”

Kathy George, Chief Executive Officer at FireKeepers Casino Hotel stated.  “I am so proud of this group of Team Members who have risen above the countless challenges this past year has presented; and go above and beyond for our valued guests day after day.”

 

Gun Lake Casino recently announced a $5,000 donation to the Exodus Place, a nonprofit organization that provides hygiene kits to homeless men and helps to provide them with development and rapid re-housing.  The donation from Gun Lake Casino will provide a year’s supply of the kits.  The Exodus Place program provides its members with a variety of essential services, including transitional housing, case management, medical care and support, spiritual advising, clothing services, education, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), MRT, member activities, a points program, GED preparation, workforce development and even a barbershop.

“Gun Lake Casino recognizes that vital organizations, like Exodus Place, have experienced a loss of funding for critical care donations due to the Coronavirus pandemic,” stated Sal Semola, president and chief operating officer of Gun Lake Casino. “We are proud to support Exodus Place and their mission of empowering men and providing the tools needed to overcome homelessness. We sincerely hope that our donation contributes to the success of many. ”

“We are extremely excited to be partnering with Gun Lake Casino and to be providing hygiene items to the men we serve. At Exodus Place, the first step to a new member’s development is to restore their dignity and pride, and Gun Lake Casino is helping us do that. They are making a positive impact on men in need,” said Robb Munger, president and CEO of Exodus Place.

The Michigan Gaming News Letter

BetMGM Becomes Second Provider to Launch Online Poker in Michigan

BetMGM announced the launch of its online poker platform, BetMGM Poker, in Michigan, according to a press release. Michigan is the second state to launch the BetMGM Poker platform after New Jersey. Customers will be able to access benefits tied to MGM Grand Detroit and MGM Resorts through the new platform.

“The launch of BetMGM Poker in Michigan fully rounds out our premier gaming portfolio in the state,” said Adam Greenblatt, CEO of BetMGM. “BetMGM’s sports betting and casino offerings have been met with incredible early success in Michigan and we’re thrilled to provide players with another exciting gaming option.”

The BetMGM Poker app will allow Michigan customers to play in poker rooms with players statewide. The BetMGM Poker app includes single account integration with BetMGM’s internet gaming and sports betting apps, allowing the player to use one wallet to play on all three platforms. BetMGM’s internet gaming and sports betting offerings launched in Michigan in January.

“The demand for online poker in Michigan was made clear by players across the state,” said Ray Stefanelli, Director of Poker of BetMGM. “BetMGM Poker is proud to offer them a seat at our tables and we’re confident that BetMGM Michigan customers will enjoy an engaging, reliable and fun poker experience.”

 

iGamingPlayer.com, a publication that presents news and information about legal online gambling in North America, announced that it was granted  a vendor registration as an affiliate marketer for internet gaming, sports betting, and poker sites by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”).

“Michigan iGaming sites are perfect partners for iGamingPlayer.com,” said Becky Kingman-Gros, President and COO of iGamingPlayer.com, in a press release. “We can deliver quality, profitable players to sites in a state where the competition is rapidly ramping up.”

iGamingPlayer.com produces content to help customers play smarter and find the best odds.

“Our stable of expert writers understand how iGaming works, whether it’s sports betting, casino games, lottery or poker,” said Ms. Kingman-Gros. “We already have ongoing relationships with most of the now legal iGaming sites in Michigan, and we’ll leverage those relationships for the benefit of our new members.”

iGamingPlayer.com is licensed and operates in several other states, including New Jersey, West Virginia, Indiana, Iowa, Colorado, Illinois, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The site has affiliate marketing programs with most of the companies which operate legal gaming in the United States.

 

MotorCity Casino Hotel announced the promotion of John Policicchio from Senior Vice President of Marketing to General Manager in a press release. Mr. Policicchio has been with MotorCity for over a decade, and has played a significant role in developing and implementing initiatives to enhance the guest experience. As General Manager, Mr. Policicchio will oversee casino and hotel operations.

“John has helped create unique and exciting offers and experiences for our MotorCity Casino guests,” said Bruce Dall, President of MotorCity Casino Hotel. “With John’s background, talent and enthusiasm, and with his ability to develop strong business strategies, we will continue to innovate and provide our guests with the very best in high-energy gaming, dining and hospitality.”

“This is an exciting time in the casino industry,” said Mr. Policicchio. “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our world-class employees, we have a very bright future at MotorCity Casino Hotel. I am grateful to have been a part of this team for the past 11 years and look forward to continuing to deliver best in class experiences to our guests.”

Mr. Policicchio is a metro-Detroit-area native, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics.

 

FireKeepers Casino Hotel was recently named to Forbes’ annual list of America’s Best Mid-Size Employers 2021, according to a press release. The award is presented by Forbes and Statistica Inc., who surveyed 50,000 Americans working for companies with at least 1,000 employees to compile the list. FireKeepers ranked 63rd out of 500 large and 500 midsize employers, and is the highest ranked casino. The full list of recognized employers can be found here.

“This acknowledgement recognizes FireKeepers’ focus on creating and maintaining a great work culture for our Team Members,” said Frank Tecumseh, FireKeepers VP of Human Resources. “Our vision is to be the employer of choice, not only in Michigan, but also throughout the gaming industry.”

FireKeepers employs over 1,800 team members, has paid over $700 million in salaries and benefits since its opening in 2009, and provides various bonuses and incentives to its employees.