5 People Charged in Michigan in Connection With Illegal Casinos

Five individuals accused of operating illegal storefront casinos in Michigan suburbs have been arranged on 31 counts. In a joint effort, the Michigan Attorney General and the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) discovered two allegedly illegal casinos in Burton and Davison, both suburbs of Flint.

The five defendants were arranged between August 18 and Sep 12, and their probable cause hearing was scheduled for Sep. 28. Two of the accused, Joseph Toporek and Mary Larkin, face five charges each:

  • Three felony counts for running a gambling operation without a license and using computers to commit a crime.
  • One high court misdemeanor for maintaining a gambling house for gain.
  • One misdemeanor for keeping a gambling house.

Meanwhile, the other three, Shaun Bellah II, Shaun Bellah Sr., and Ghazwan Brikho, each face seven charges:

  • Five felony charges for conducting a criminal enterprise, conspiracy to conduct a criminal enterprise, running a gambling operation without a license, and using computers to commit a crime.
  • One high court misdemeanor for maintaining a gambling house for gain.
  • One misdemeanor for keeping a gambling house.

MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams said accountability is crucial to uphold justice and ensure honest gambling operations in Michigan. He added that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

While the Michigan Gaming Control Board will continue to hold those who choose to circumvent the law accountable for their actions, we also acknowledge the importance of fairness, equality, and the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. We operate with integrity and our investigators remain committed to the foundations of due process that protects the rights of all individuals involved.

Authorities Found 100 Gambling Devices

On April 27, investigators seized 100 gambling devices, $29,204 in suspected winnings, and 62 gift cards of various denominations. The two allegedly illegal casinos were located at The State Road Spot, located at 723 South State Road in Davison, and The Bristol Spot, located at 1374 East Bristol Road in Burton.

At The Bristol Spot, authorities seized 35 gambling devices, which included 12 full-size standalone gaming machines and 23 gaming computer towers. Meanwhile, officers took 65 gambling devices from The State Road Spot, including 11 standalone gaming machines and 54 gaming computer towers.

The investigation started after the MGCB received a tip about the Bristol Spot and launched a joint effort with the Michigan Attorney General.

Investigators Discovered Another Alleged Illegal Casino in August

Shutting down the Burton and Davison illegal casinos has not been an isolated incident in Michigan. On Aug. 23, MGCB, the Michigan Attorney General, and state and local investigators discovered another allegedly illegal storefront casino in Flint. Authorities seized 48 gaming computers and two gaming machines from The Flint Arcade at 3301 Corunna Road. They also seized $13,260 in suspected gambling profits.

Notably, the same site was served with a search warrant less than a week prior. On Aug. 18, investigators seized 43 gambling computers and $2,572.48 in winnings from The Cellular Vault, the business at the site. However, after an anonymous tip, investigators discovered the illegal casino reopened under a different name.

MGCB Also Protects Legal Online Gambling

In addition to protecting Michiganders from illegal storefront casinos, the MGCB’s job is to monitor and regulate Michigan online gambling. The Wolverine State is one of six to have legal online casinos and sportsbooks. Recent examples highlight the efforts of the regulator.

On Sept. 1, Michigan officials shut down Golden Hearts Games, a free-to-play social casino. In a press release, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said she shut down Golden Hearts because it operated without the approval of MGCB.

In August, MGCB proposed new daily fantasy sports (DFS) regulations to state lawmakers, including banning props-style DFS. The proposal came after worries by the regulator that DFS prop bets mimic sports betting, and operators act as illegal sportsbooks. The new rules would impact three DFS operators in the state: Boom, PrizePicks, and RealTime Fantasy Sports.

Furthermore, on April 28, Michigan was one of seven states asking the US Department of Justice (DOJ) for help fighting illegal offshore operators. The group also warned any operators with illegal activities anywhere else risk losing their license in legal gambling states.

MGCB stays proactive in educating Michiganders about gambling and promoting responsible gambling. The regulator has fact sheets and tools on its website. MGCB also launched the Double Down podcast, where responsible and problem gambling feature prominently.

About the Author

Chav Vasilev

Chav Vasilev

After years of managing fast-casual restaurants, Chav turned his passion for sports and occasional slot wins into a career as an iGaming writer. Sharing his time between Europe and the US, he has been exposed to betting and gambling for years and has closely followed the growth in the US. Chav is a proponent of playing responsibly and playing only at legal online sites. When not writing, you will find him watching and betting on sports, especially soccer, or trying to land the next big bonus on a slot.
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