June 12, 2012
LANSING - Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced the Attorney General's Alcohol & Gambling Enforcement Division has issued "Cease and Desist" letters to nine additional "Internet Sweepstakes Cafes" that are alleged to be operating illegal gambling operations. The letters come as the result of an ongoing investigation by the Michigan State Police, the Michigan Gaming Control Board and the Attorney General's office. Last month, Schuette's office announced it had already closed eight such operations after coming to an agreement with a gaming software supplier.
"We will continue to work with the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Gaming Control Board to shut down any illegal gambling operations we find," said Schuette. "Citizens should steer clear of Internet Sweepstakes Cafes that are nothing more than unregistered, illegal casinos."
The Attorney General's Office has sent letters to the following locations, informing the owners that they are suspected of violating State Gaming Laws:
The cease and desist letters were issued by the Attorney General's Alcohol & Gambling Enforcement Division on June 8, 2012. The letters warned of possible legal action if the owners/operators refused to halt ongoing gambling operations that violate state gaming laws. Should any of the nine locations refuse to halt operations, Schuette will take immediate action to shut them down through the criminal or civil court system. Investigations are still pending against the owners and operators of these businesses that may result in additional criminal or civil charges. Michigan State Police, Gaming Control Board, and Attorney General's office will continue to investigate and close other unlawful internet sweepstakes throughout the state.
Internet sweepstakes cafés are businesses that sell Internet access and the chance to play computer-based casino-style games where customers can win cash prizes. The operations are housed in buildings that contain banks of computers with Internet access. Some serve light fare, like pop and chips, to patrons. Each purchase entitles the customer to a certain number of sweepstakes entries. The customer is then given the opportunity to "reveal" whether the sweepstakes entries are winners by using a computer monitor that activates a spinning wheel similar to that of a casino-style video slot machine. Schuette asserts that this type of gaming violates the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act.
Last month, a series of cease and desist letters issued by the Attorney General prompted an agreement with Innovative Entertainment to voluntarily close eight locations in Michigan. Innovative Entertainment of Michigan had licensed and supplied the casino-style gaming software and agreed to remotely shut down the following locations that remain closed:
An additional venue, Players Club Internet Café (6603 N. Wayne Road Westland, MI), has since voluntarily closed, avoiding the most recent enforcement action by the Attorney General's Office.
Michigan's Penal Code and the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act strictly prohibit unregulated gambling. The only gambling authorized under state law includes pari-mutuel horse racing, bingo, the state-sponsored lottery, certain charity events and casino gambling licensed under the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act.
Michigan citizens are encouraged to report any suspicious or illegal gambling to the Michigan Gaming Control Board by calling their 24-hour anonymous tip line at, 888-314-2682.