“Offshore sites cannot be held accountable for stealing money, identity theft, or other issues,” Says MI Regulator

Exclusive: Michigan regulator highlights risks of unlicensed sites as the MGCB urges players to use only legally licensed sites.
December 21, 2021

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has issued a warning to the state’s citizens about the many dangers of gambling on unregulated sites.

The state’s online casinos and sportsbooks have been regulated since January 2021, providing Michiganders with a safe, legal space in which to enjoy iGaming.

In particular, the board highlighted the risk of identity theft, and also stated that winnings or refunds were often not being paid out by unregulated gaming sites.

Mary Kay Bean, a spokesperson for the MGCB, told CasinoShield, “Licensees of the Michigan Gaming Control Board can be held accountable for their conduct. Offshore providers cannot be held accountable by the MGCB for stealing money, identity theft, or other conduct issues.”

According to the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS), identity thieves can use your personal details to fraudulently apply for credit, receive medical care, and file taxes. In addition to costing victims a considerable amount of money, it can also do serious damage to your credit score, and fixing the problem is a very time-consuming business.

MCGB Executive Director, Henry Williams said, “If you share personal information with an unregulated gambling site, there are no guarantees your information won’t be sold to or used by criminals.”

Williams also pointed out that this kind of crime is not rare: “Identity theft is the most common complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission. In 2020, 1.3 million identity theft reports were made in the U.S., including more than 24,000 cases of identity theft reported in Michigan.”

Regulation Means Protection for Players

But the risks are not just limited to ID theft. The MGCB says that players often contact them to complain that winnings have not been paid out, or that refunds are not obtainable.

To add insult to injury, players have no legal recourse of action through the court. If the sites are not regulated, then by definition the regulators are powerless to do anything.

“Unlike regulated gambling, there is no mechanism for the MGCB to handle a patron dispute with an unregulated, offshore gambling site. Our agency does not have the authority to pursue a dispute with an unregulated site,” says Williams.

Other types of less obvious — but certainly, no less serious — criminal activity are also often involved with unregulated sites. According to the FBI, unregulated gambling can support organized crime by providing an avenue for money laundering.

For players who are unsure which sites are regulated, the MGCB website provides a list of authorized online casinos and sports betting sites.

Money Coming in to State Coffers

This has been a busy year for Michigan’s regulators; the very first gaming sites went live in the Great Lakes State in January — less than a year ago — and have proved to be incredibly popular.

Records for October showed nearly $110 million was generated in online gaming revenue — and this points to another reason for Michiganders to use regulated sites: taxes.

That October figure resulted in $20.3m in state taxes and a further $7.8m in local taxes. Since the first site went live in January. In total, iGaming has brought in over $220 million so far, in 2021.

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