A Day in the Life of an MGCB Regulation Officer at Greektown Casino
Office of Performance and Transformation's Communication Representative Monica Drake will be following different State of Michigan employees throughout the year.
Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) regulation officers, such as Robyne McCray, provide a checks and balances system for casinos.
The job of regulation officers is to monitor the three commercial casinos within the Detroit city limits to ensure they are complying with the Gaming Control & Revenue Act, the Administrative Rules, and the casinos’ internal controls as approved by MGCB.
McCray, who is assigned to Greektown Casino (but while on-duty may need to respond to all three casinos), said some customers don’t understand that MGCB employees don’t work for the casino industry but, instead, on behalf of the citizens of Michigan to ensure fair and honest gaming.
“I meet patrons who may feel the casinos are unfair. We try to explain to citizens that gambling is a game of chance and should be used for entertainment purposes only. We want Michigan citizens and those who visit our great state to be comfortable with patronizing the casinos.”
McCray said she is often called to settle patron disputes initiated after someone has played on a slot machine for several hours and hasn’t hit a major jackpot.
“Patrons will question, ‘I’ve lost a lot of money. Can I get my money back?' They feel they should have won and will file a complaint, wanting MGCB to verify that the machine is operating within the parameters set by the State of Michigan,” she said. “We try to deescalate the situation. Typically, when we go out to the gaming floor where the patron is located, I volunteer to do a field verification, which we refer to as hashing the machine, to verify that the software is approved for that machine to be operable for the patron to use. Normally, once we confirm to the patron the machine is operating properly, they continue to game.”
McCray works from 4:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Wednesday and every other weekend. She is one of 16 employees who work as regulation officers over three different shifts. The other shifts are 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and noon to 10:30 p.m.
Each night, when she arrives to work, she walks past the bright lights of the casino and the sounds of the slot machines and takes the elevator to the MGCB office located within Greektown Casino. The office location blocks out most of the sounds of the casino and looks just like any other office suite in state government, despite the activities going on downstairs. MGCB also has a satellite office on the gaming floor of each casino accessible to citizens for any concerns. Each regulation officer carries a walkie-talkie radio and cellphone at all times to respond when assistance is needed within the casino.
“The gaming industry is non-stop. I was leaving once at 3 a.m. and, with the activity going on in the casino at that time, you’d swear it was 8 p.m.,” she said.
MGCB is provided with its own surveillance room to observe activity throughout the casino. This allows regulation officers to covertly observe a table game, slot play, and employee activities.
“While conducting monitoring inspections (inspections created by the MGCB to review and observe gaming activities in the casinos), I will observe table game play to make sure the rules of the game are being followed – the table layout, making sure the dealer is dealing the game appropriately, and the players are playing accordingly,” said McCray. “The dealer must spread the money received by the players so that regulation officers can see the money and playing cards on the surveillance cameras.”
Slot machines, table games, cash collection, and patron disputes are just a few of about 40 monitoring inspections every regulation officer is responsible for each month. If the casino is found to be non-compliant with the rules, it may be subject to administrative review by the MGCB.
McCray said there are times when individuals are found to work in collusion to defraud the casino. However, due to the work of the casino’s surveillance team, MGCB staff, and law enforcement, these persons are apprehended and prosecuted.
“We want to ensure everything is fair,” she said.
Regulation officers are also responsible for investigating cases when minors or disassociated persons are found in a gaming area. MGCB developed the Disassociated Persons List, pursuant to Michigan law (MCL 432.225), to help patrons who are addicted to gambling.
“Patrons can voluntarily ban themselves from the Detroit casinos. They can visit our Detroit or Lansing office to complete an application to be placed on our Disassociated Persons List. For the rest of their lives, they are prohibited from patronizing the three Detroit casinos,” said McCray.
McCray said that, oftentimes, the disassociated person will try to sneak back into the casino. But the casino has systems in place to assist in alerting them of the disassociated person’s presence in the casino. In addition, the regulation officers have access to MGCB systems to assist the casinos and law enforcement in identifying disassociated persons so they can be escorted off property.
MGCB also founded the Problem Gambling Diversion Program, which allows first time offenders the opportunity to enroll in a treatment program with a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provider. Successful completion of the treatment program will result in dismissal of criminal trespassing charges.
“Some patrons believe it is our responsibility to keep them out of the casino. While they are responsible for keeping themselves out of the casino, MGCB created this program to provide an alternative for people with a gambling problem,” she said. “There are a lot of people who struggle when it comes to gambling. MGCB has really tried to ensure that the citizens who patronize the casinos are provided with the care they deserve.”
McCray said she loves her job and feels regulation officers make a difference in the lives of casino-goers.
“I enjoy everything about my job. I’m a people person, and I love being able to learn new things from my peers. I’m constantly looking to be better at my job,” she said.
McCray started with MGCB as a departmental technician in their records section. She also worked in the employee licensing section, where she would fingerprint prospective licensees, review applications, and issue temporary occupational licenses required by each employee working in the gaming area of the casino. While working full-time, she continued her education, raised four children, and graduated from the University of Phoenix with a Bachelor of Science in business administration. She later was promoted to a regulation officer in the enforcement section of MGCB. She is proof of what an employee of the State of Michigan can accomplish by working hard, improving their skills, and mapping a career path.