April 9, 2012
LANSING - Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced the Attorney General's Alcohol & Gambling Enforcement Division has issued formal 'cease and desist' letters to three "Internet sweepstakes cafes" operating in mid-Michigan. The letters warn of possible legal action against the cafes if they refuse to halt ongoing gambling operations that violate state gaming laws. 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.
"Communities across Michigan are concerned about activities happening at many so-called 'Internet sweepstakes cafes'," said Schuette. "If evidence of illegal gaming is uncovered at these cafes or elsewhere, we will work with the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Gaming Control Board to shut them down."
The three Internet Sweepstakes Cafes to receive Schuette's warning letter are:
Cyber Café (2495 Cedar, Suites 14a & 14b, Holt, MI);
Lansing Business Center (3620 S. Waverly, Lansing, MI); and
Flint Business Center (4835 Fenton Rd., Flint, MI).
The three Internet sweepstakes cafés in question 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 alleges that this type of gaming violates the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act.
If the three cafes fail to cease their illegal gambling operations within 14 days, Schuette may take legal action, which may include the filing of a civil action or criminal charges.
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, 888-314-2682.