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Detroit has Tough Criminal Laws for Casino Cheats

7 February 2001

Individuals who attempt to cheat casinos in the City of Detroit face very stiff penalties and a long jail sentence. Yesterday, The Detroit News reported on the case of Brent Morris, a New Jersey gambler, who was in court on Monday on charges of "past posting" his bets at a craps table at the Greektown Casino. All of the Detroit casinos have extensive security cameras and special police officers assigned to catch cheaters. Mr. Morris was allegedly spotted by one of Greektown's 1000 cameras placing bets after the dice had been rolled.

The Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act, which outlines the rules that govern the Detroit casinos, contains a laundry list of specific cheating activities which constitute a felony under Michigan law. Things such as using counterfeit chips or tokens, bringing devices in to alter a casino game, using a device to assist in analyzing strategy, and possessing devices to assist in tracking cards are all specifically prohibited. Additionally, the Act broadly prohibits "cheating at a gambling game." All of these prohibited activities carry with them a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

The criminal penalties get even more dramatic if an individual engages in "racketeering." Under the Act, a person engages in "racketeering" if that person:

1. Solicits a person to commit any of the felony violations listed above, for financial gain;

2. Coerces a person to commit any of the felony violations listed above, for financial gain;

3. Intimidates a person to commit any of the felony violations listed above, for financial gain;

4. Attempts to solicit a person to commit any of the felony violations listed above, for financial gain;

5. Attempts to coerce a person to commit any of the felony violations listed above, for financial gain;

6. Attempts to intimidate a person to commit any of the felony violations listed above, for financial gain;

7. Conspires to solicit a person to commit any of the felony violations listed above, for financial gain;

8. Conspires to coerce a person to commit any of the felony violations listed above, for financial gain;

9. Conspires to intimidate a person to commit any of the felony violations listed above, for financial gain;

10. Aids or abets soliciting a person to commit any of the felony violations listed above, for financial gain;

11. Aids or abets coercing a person to commit any of the felony violations listed above, for financial gain;

12. Aids or abets intimidating a person to commit any of the felony violations listed above, for financial gain.

Engaging in two or more incidents of racketeering is a felony punishable by imprisonment up to 20 years and/or a fine of up to $100,000.

Without question, Michigan has some of the toughest laws of any state with regard to attempting to cheat in a casino. The act of cheating in a Michigan casino is regulated by the Michigan Gaming Control Board. It is taken very seriously in this state and considerable resources are devoted to catching, and convicting, those individuals who cheat. For example, Eric Eggan, the state Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Casino Control Division, noted that the Michigan State Police have already brought charges on nearly 60 cases.

Under the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act, individuals convicted of cheating are required to be placed on Michigan's "excluded persons list" which bans them from visiting any of the Detroit casinos. Placement on the list can also have a ripple effect to other jurisdictions resulting in exclusion from casinos in many places, including Michigan's 17 tribal casinos.

All in all, cheaters should take note that they are not welcome in Michigan's new casinos. On a bipartisan basis, the Michigan Legislature made it clear that Michigan was going to have the toughest laws against illegal activity of any jurisdiction. Those convicted of cheating will undoubtedly learn the hard way through long, tough sentences, and sizable penalties.

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com