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Alcohol & Gambling Enforcement Division (AGED)
The Alcohol & Gambling Enforcement Division (AGED) represents seven clients and practices many distinct areas of law. The division serves:
- the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC);
- the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB);
- the Executive Director of the MGCB in his oversight of licensed millionaire parties and wagering on horse racing;
- the Bureau of State Lottery, including its Charitable Gaming Division;
- the Michigan Sheriffs’ Coordinating and Training Office (SCTO);
- the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA); and
- the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES).
The AGED advocates for these clients in state and federal courts, as well as in voluminous administrative actions. For example, in 2023, division attorneys wrote nearly 2,000 complaints against MLCC licensees and appeared in over 800 administrative hearings. As general counsel for these agencies, the AGED routinely answers complex legal questions, aids in regulatory investigations, and reviews agency contracts. Other services the AGED provides include examining legislation, evaluating complex transactional documents, and helping agencies draft and promulgate administrative rules. Division attorneys also present training programs for agency personnel.
Further, the AGED advises the Attorney General on firearms matters and answers citizen firearm questions. Additionally, the division takes action against illegal gambling businesses and illegal alcohol shippers. To date, the division has sued over 25 illegal alcohol shippers and obtained judgments awarding the Attorney General over $209,000 in fines and costs. The AGED’s varied responsibilities also encompass enforcing Michigan’s Beverage Container Law (Bottle Bill) and, in 2023, it pursued compliance in response to over 300 complaints.
Serving the MLCC:
The AGED’s administrative advocacy for the MLCC includes licensing appeals and enforcement proceedings against liquor licensees. Moreover, division attorneys frequently analyze questions arising from the MLCC’s regulation of over 8,000 licensees. Litigation the division handles for the MLCC ranges from circuit-court administrative appeals to federal court disputes over the constitutionality of liquor laws.
The AGED likewise aids the MLCC in its efforts to eliminate illegal alcohol shipments into Michigan. In 2023, the division sent nearly 250 cease-and-desist letters to illegal alcohol shippers. A nationwide leader in illegal shipping enforcement, the division prosecutes federal lawsuits on behalf of the Attorney General under the Twenty-first Amendment Enforcement Act and the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.
Serving the MGCB and its Executive Director:
Attorneys serving the MGCB and its Executive Director are well-versed in the numerous bodies of law establishing this client’s regulatory authority: the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act; the Lawful Internet Gaming Act; the Lawful Sports Betting Act; the Fantasy Contests Consumer Protection Act; the Traxler-McCauley-Law-Bowman Bingo Act (Bingo Act); and the Horse Racing Law of 1995.
AGED attorneys provide this client with extensive services geared toward ensuring integrity in gambling in Detroit’s three casinos and various other venues. For example, AGED attorneys scrutinize multi-million-dollar financial transactions and complex ownership transfers to confirm legal compliance and represent the state’s interests in all manner of licensing and enforcement actions, civil litigation, and civil-service actions involving MGCB personnel. The MGCB further relies on the AGED’s assistance with its efforts to stop illegal gambling across the state.
Serving the Michigan Lottery:
Through its legal services, the AGED helps the Michigan Lottery make over $1 billion a year for the Michigan School Aid Fund. The division contributes to the Lottery’s success by evaluating iLottery and terminal-based game directives that govern game play and various contracts that underly Lottery operations. Additionally, the division routinely counsels the Lottery on broad-ranging subjects such as trademark and patent issues, winner-anonymity questions, and ticket-ownership conflicts.
Moreover, the AGED protects the Michigan Lottery’s interests in federal bankruptcy court by challenging the discharge of retailer debt. Division attorneys also represent the Michigan Lottery in personnel matters. And, in recent years, on behalf of the Lottery, the division led a nationwide coalition of states supporting the New Hampshire Lottery’s challenge to the Department of Justice’s interpretation of the Wire Act.
Finally, the AGED serves the Michigan Lottery’s Charitable Gaming Division, which handles certain charitable-gaming activities conducted under the Bingo Act. Each year, thousands of licenses are issued to allow qualified nonprofit organizations to fund their charitable causes through raffles, bingo, and charity-game ticket sales. In fiscal year 2022, the Charitable Gaming Division processed 8,466 license applications and conducted 1,695 inspections of qualified nonprofit organizations. It relies on the AGED for support in enforcing laws regulating these activities, including laws requiring licensees to properly account for funds they raise through charitable gambling.
Serving the DMVA:
The AGED’s service to the DMVA involves a multi-faceted practice advising several agencies on issues related to Michigan’s military and veterans: the Michigan Army and Air National Guard, the Michigan Youth Challenge, the Michigan Veterans Homes and the Veterans Facility Authority (MVFA) Board of Directors, and the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. The AGED counsels these agencies on matters such as procurement contracts, cooperative agreements involving the federal government, and complex real-estate transactions involving the Army and Air National Guard.
The AGED helps MCOLES fulfill broad-ranging responsibilities that include applying the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards Act, licensing over 18,000 police officers across 580 agencies, overseeing Michigan’s 23 law-enforcement training academies, and certifying retired police officers to carry concealed weapons. Supporting MCOLES requires examining questions on this wide scope of topics and representing the agency in license application and revocation matters.
For example, in 2023, the AGED assisted MCOLES in approximately 40 cases that considered a license applicant’s satisfaction of MCOLES’s character fitness standard. The AGED advises at every stage of these cases and represents MCOLES in any resulting contested-case hearing, as well as on appeal. The AGED also represents MCOLES when it takes statutorily required action to revoke a law enforcement license for conduct that violates the MCOLES Act.
The AGED serves the Sheriffs Coordinating and Training Office, which is led by the seven-member Sheriffs Coordinating and Training Council, in its responsibility for improving training and education of local corrections officers assigned to county jails. The Council develops standards and requirements for, and certification of, local corrections officers. The AGED’s role for this client encompasses providing general counsel and representing it in civil litigation.
Serving Michigan’s Citizens Asserting Bottle Bill Violations:
The AGED carries the responsibility of responding to citizen inquiries about Bottle Bill compliance. Typically, the inquiries assert that businesses have violated the statute by, for example, refusing to refund deposits on returnable containers. Through communication with the businesses, the AGED regularly obtains the business’s written assurance that it will comply with the Bottle Bill going forward. If businesses with a MLCC license do not comply, the AGED refers matters to the MLCC for enforcement action. During 2023, the AGED responded to 309 Bottle Bill complaints to assist Michigan’s citizens.
Serving the Attorney General Regarding Firearms:
The AGED is responsible for advising the Attorney General on matters related to firearms. This role includes making recommendations to the Attorney General on pending firearms-related legislation and rules proposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Division attorneys also make recommendations to the Attorney General on whether to provide amicus support in firearms-related litigation across the nation. In 2023, the AGED provided recommendations on joining amicus briefs in over 20 cases.
Further, the AGED responds to citizen inquiries regarding firearms and reviews applications for silencers forwarded to the Attorney General by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.