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How illegal gambling busts play out in Lansing

How illegal gambling busts play out in Lansing
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 10:36 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - After two alleged illegal casinos were shut down in Lansing, police gave a play-by-play Thursday of how they operated to the city’s safety committee.

Read: Lansing Police update Safety Committee on gambling crackdown

Police said both casinos were operating without licenses for their machines. They also said the games were falsely advertised as “Skill games,” which means they win prizes based on skill level.

The Lansing City Safety Committee questioned Cpt. Robert Backus about the recent raid of illegal gambling operations. On March 8, officers with the Lansing Police Department and the Michigan Gaming Control Board raided two alleged illegal casinos. They confiscated 82 machines and more than $91,000.

Background: ‘Unregulated, illegal gambling operations’ -- Alleged storefront casinos raided by Lansing Police

Backus said the criminals operating the casinos have a tendency to move around, making them hard to catch.

“The way these are set up -- from our experience -- is these are gaming tables. When they want to move, they can simply load them up and take them to a different location,” Backus said.

He told the committee that getting access to these sites is extremely difficult.

“It’s not some place I can just walk right in. A lot of times there’s locked doors,” Backus said. “If I don’t know somebody, I can’t just walk in there.”

That being the case, Backus said they rely on people in the community to reach out.

“Typically we get information about the existence of these type of gaming locations from our citizens,” Backus said. “They show up in their communities and attract attention and that’s when they call us to report them.”

Backus said it’s an issue throughout Michigan and that many locations have affiliates elsewhere, some out-of-state.

Police are urging the public to report any casinos they believe to be illegal. Backus said a red flag to look for is if the casino pays their customers in cash from the get go, instead of on a card first. You can report an anonymous tip through the Michigan Gaming Control Board’s anonymous tip line at 1-888-314-2682.

More: Crime news

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