Michigan Gaming Board Tightens Its Grip on Charity Gambling — And State Nonprofits Have Already Lost Millions
As the Detroit Free Press recently reported, the existence of “charity gaming” provides essential funding for a variety of nonprofit and community organization; from youth sports leagues to businesses that pay for social workers to serve Michigan’s poorest residents, many charities depend on the cash that flows in through charity gambling.
Nonprofit organizations often struggle to make ends meet, and it’s estimated that around 72% of U.S. nonprofit revenue comes from programs similar to the charity gaming service regulated by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
However, in recent years, Michigan’s Gaming Board has been cracking down on charity poker games, especially in Detroit’s three casinos. The Gaming Board has also increased regulation of charity poker events, the Free Press stated, and in 2012 it began going after alleged abusers.
Although some organizations hosting the charity poker events have admitted that there were some “bogus nonprofits” that profited from charity gaming, Philanthropy.com has reported that legitimate nonprofits in Michigan have lost millions in annual revenue because of the Gaming Board’s strict regulations. While chip sales were at $197.3 million in 2011 at charity poker games, this number quickly dropped to $86.3 million in 2014.
This past September, the Detroit Free Press reported that the Gaming Board had been investigating the charity-focused Poker Room at Ledge Meadows Golf Course because, according to the Bingo Act from the 1970s, the golf course was “acting like a casino.”
Since the Gaming Board began tightening regulations in 2012, at least 24 charity gaming locations throughout the state have been shut down.