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The Lansing City Council is making plans to crack down on illegal gambling after a council member stumbled into an overt illicit gambling operation. The gaming was far from hidden, as council member Adam Hussain described it, operating in plain sight in a southwest Lansing storefront.
Hussain and fellow council members drafted a new ordinance that establishes a rigid framework for the civil and criminal penalties an area business will face if they are caught with an illegal gambling operation. The council is expected to vote on the ordinance on Monday.
Under the new ordinance, all forms of games played for money, aside from those offered by the state lottery or licensed fundraising events, will be prohibited. The law will apply to gambling on private residences as well, such as a home poker game, but council members say they do not plan to target private residences.
Michigan laws already regulate gambling throughout the state, but Hussain says illegal gambling became a problem in Lansing because the city lacked an ordinance that addresses enforcement on a local level.
Under the current system, the state Attorney General’s office is responsible for investigating and enforcing gambling laws in Lansing. However, the system has only two investigators monitoring illegal gambling across the entire state.
The ordinance would establish gambling without a permit as a misdemeanor offense. Businesses owners would face up to a $500 fine up to 90 days in jail. The city could also seize money and property from businesses convicted of criminal gambling.