The Criminal Defense Law Center of
West Michigan

Casino And Gambling Crimes

Illegal Gambling Defense Attorneys
Grand Rapids, Michigan

In 1996, a statewide ballot gave the city of Detroit the ability to build three casinos. Because of this law, MGM Grand DetroitGreektown Casino & Hotel and Motor City Casino were created in the motor city. After these casinos opened, state prosecutors had to start dealing with Casino and Gambling Crimes.

Crimes that occur at a casino in Detroit are prosecuted under the State of Michigan laws by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. At these casinos, there is constant video surveillance. There are quite literally thousands of cameras in casinos. They are placed all over the place and it is very difficult to get away with illegal behavior there because of this. There have been rumblings about there being nearly 6000 cameras at Greektown Casino.

The two casinos in West Michigan are Gun Lake Casino and Firekeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Michigan. Firekeepers is famous for their poker tournaments. 

If you arrested for a DUI, disorderly conduct, theft or any gambling charge at a casino, call Shawn today at 616-438-6719. The call is free. Will you be? 

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Maximum Penalty for Casino And Gambling Crimes

Any attempt to cheat at a casino game, including capping or topping chips, is punishable as a felony. Pursuant to MCL 432.218, the following conduct (partial list) is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $100,000.00, or both, and barred for life from a gambling establishment in Michigan, for doing any of the following:

  • Keeping track of the cards played in a gambling game.
  • Cheats at a gambling game.
  • Places a bet after acquiring knowledge, not available to all players, of the outcome of the gambling game that is the subject of the bet or to aid a person in acquiring the knowledge for the purpose of placing a bet contingent on that outcome.
  • Claims, collects, takes, or attempts to claim, collect, or take money or anything of value in or from the gambling games, with intent to defraud, without having made a wager contingent on winning a gambling game, or claims, collects, or takes an amount of money or thing of value of greater value than the amount won.
  • Manufactures or sells, or distributes cards, chips, dice, a game, or a device that is intended to be used to violate this act.
  • Uses counterfeit chips or tokens in a gambling game.

If a person who is under the age of 21 gets caught entering a casino, they are in trouble for committing a misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 1 year in jail.

Here are some types of illegal activities explained in greater detail that can happen at Casinos. 

Card Counting

Counting cards is not a crime but all casinos view it differently. Owners of casinos lose millions of dollars when players come to a table and win huge amounts of money from their ability to count cards. This happens all the time when people are playing blackjack.  There have been books written by people who have won millions of dollars counting cards. Casinos try to present this from happening by constantly changing out decks. The MIT blackjack team is famous for their ability to count cards. They were the inspiration for the money 21. 

Money Laundering

When it comes to this crime most people think of organized crime syndicates. These criminal organizations would use profits from the casinos to cover up they money they are making from gun running or drugs. It has become harder to use casinos and gambling as a way to clean dirty money. The federal government and state governments have put laws in place that make it mandatory for casinos to report transactions over a certain amount of money. 


Sports Betting

Sports betting has a big legalization movement across the country. At the moment, it is still generally a illegal across the country. When you made a wager on a sports game, did you ever think you were potentially engaging in criminal activity? Pete Rose was banned from baseball for betting on a baseball game. In other instances, people playing in a sporting event have thrown a game in order to fix games to ensure someone gets paid handsomely. 

Loan Sharking

This crime is a staple in gambling. It is mainly used to help those who are addicted to gambling be able to pay for their habbit. The interest rates on this money are extremely high and the loan sharks are often tied to the mafia or other criminal organizations. This is a predatory crime because it takes advantage of those who have an addiction problem. This people don’t realize the consequences until they are in too deep and it’s too late. 

Illegal Drugs

Throughout the history of gambling, casinos have been places where illegal drugs can be found. During prohibition, many gambling halls served alcohol in their back rooms. Once alcohol became legal, casinos soon started distributing illegal drugs to their customers. Drug dealers have numerous ways to hide the money they make from illegal business. Gambling is a perfect way to cover it. 


In the old days of the gambling, people would hide cards up their sleeves and use it when the pot was huge and a lot of money was on the line. During these days, if you played you either cheated or were a victim of cheating. Cheating has been part of gambling since the beginning of the game. Accusations of cheating lead to numerous fights at casinos and bars over the years. One of the biggest group of cheaters was the Tran Organization. They cheated nearly 30 casinos out of nearly seven million dollars over the course of a couple of years. The tactic they used was called a false shuffle. This method required having a dealer work for them. The dealer would make sure a group of cards stayed together. 

Electronic equipment is also a form of cheating. Being able to figure out the cards other people are holding in Texas Hold’em is a major advantage. It is also a very big advantage for blackjack. There has been software designed to can come up with statistics that can let people put the odds in their favor. 

People can also cheat slot machines. People can use fake coins. People like Ron Harris used to fix machines as the casino. He set up certain slot machines to pay out a player when they follow certain steps. 


Recently we represented someone who stole a person’s wallet from the Gun Lake Casino. In other cases, people go around bumping into a person and take money out of their hand or they take away the person’s money slip while they are walking between machines.  Cell phones are also stolen a lot from casinos. People leaving one laying at a machine they are using and move on to another machine. Sadly, instead of reporting the lost phone to the lost and phone office that all casinos have, certain people will just keep the phone for themselves. 

Gambling can be a costly activity, especially when the laws involved

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