Michigan Gas Stations and Storefront Raided, Alleged Illegal Gambling Machines Seized
Three Michigan gas stations in the Detroit metro and a Flint retail storefront were recently raided by state law enforcement for allegedly operating unregulated and therefore unlawful gambling machines.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s (D) office and the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) were assisted by State Police and local law enforcement in carrying out the raids. State officials say 56 alleged illegal gambling apparatuses were confiscated from the four businesses along with $12,700 in alleged illegal gambling profits.
The raids occurred in Redford, Taylor, and Allen Park — the three Detroit-area locations — and the fourth in Mundy Township in Flint.
“We’ve seen an increasing number of complaints about alleged illegal gambling, and we appreciate the help received from citizens who call our tip line,” said Henry Williams, Michigan Gaming Control Board executive director. “The MGCB works closely with local law enforcement agencies to investigate alleged illegal gambling locations, which do not provide the protections associated with legal, regulated gaming and can bring unwanted crime to neighborhoods.”
The gas stations targeted by law enforcement are a BP at 25845 Eight Mile Road in Redford, a Shell at 19350 Ecorse Road in Allen Park, and a BP at 8808 Pelham Road in Taylor. The Mundy Township location at 5542 Fenton Road is a retail strip mall storefront called the Hot Spot Arcade. The arcade is located behind a Speedway gas station.
A Google street view of the strip storefront shows the Hot Spot masquerading as a boutique clothing company.
Alleged Illegal Gambling
Law enforcement says the bulk of the alleged unlawful gambling terminals were confiscated at the Hot Stop Arcade. The MGCB explains that 53 machines were seized from the Fenton Road location, as well as $9,141 in believed illegal gambling-related cash.
The Mundy Township storefront allegedly offered customers opportunities to play casino-style games in conjunction with a purchase of overpriced snacks and merchandise. Customers allegedly received so-called ‘promotional’ game play by making purchases and received cash awards for winning,” a MGCB release detailed.
The three gas stations raided allegedly each had only a single gaming cabinet. The machines, dubbed “coin pushers” by the state, allowed players to deposit quarters for the chance of pushing more quarters and/or paper currency off the edge of the game’s tray.
The MGCB says the coin-pushing machines, which are commonly found in arcades across the country, are illegal gambling devices. The Michigan Penal Code broadly prohibits any kind of game that “generally involves the elements of consideration, prize, and chance.”
Defining Illegal Gambling Machines
In a handout explaining what constitutes illegal gambling, the MGCB says anytime a person pays to play a device that can issue a cash reward based on chance, caution is needed.
The MGCB says if a customer pays to play a terminal, and the outcome of the play is determined primarily by accidental or fortuitous circumstances (chance) beyond the control of the player, the machines do not fall within the parameters of Michigan’s laws on arcade games and amusements.
The state gaming board adds that elements of skill do not qualify the machines as legal, nor do winnings being paid out in the form of store credit. Businesses found guilty of housing unlawful gambling machines risk losing their liquor and/or lottery licenses, monetary fines, and criminal prosecution.
Criminal charges have not yet been filed against the four businesses.
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