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November 02, 2015

Mich. Charity Gaming Take Plummets as Regulators Crack Down

Nonprofits in Michigan have lost millions of dollars in revenue in recent years as the state has tightened restrictions on "poker rooms" and other casino-style fundraising events authorities say had become rife with fraud, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Chip sales at the so-called "millionaire parties" declined from a high of $197.3 million in 2011 to $86.3 million last year, according to the Michigan Gaming Control Board, which regulates gambling in the state. While the revenue figures include expenses associated with running the events — put on by for-profit companies that receive a share of the take — they also reflect sizable losses for sponsoring charities that say they can ill afford the shrinking pot as governments cut spending on social services.

The gaming board has stepped up enforcement to combat abuses its director, Richard Kalm, said include commercial operators skimming off the top and setting up bogus nonprofits as an excuse to run games and collect all the revenue. Nonprofit leaders acknowledge the problems but contend regulators have gone too far, shutting down events on technicalities and adopting an adversarial stance toward charity gaming.