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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel Axes Illegal Online Casino

Written By J.R. Duren on September 18, 2023
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

After a two-year investigation, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office shut down an illegal online casino run by Massachusetts company Golden Hearts Games.

Attorney General Dana Nessel lambasted the casino in a statement. Noting, among other things, that the state’s education system misses out on tax revenue when unregulated online casinos take bets from gamblers in Michigan. Nessel said in a statement:

“Unlicensed gaming robs our schools and our government of essential funding and leaves consumers unprotected. When companies like Golden Hearts attempt to circumvent Michigan’s gaming laws, they create the false impression that their games are legal and safe for consumers.”

A portion of all gaming revenue Michigan generates funds the state’s education system.

Golden Hearts’ illegal website shut down after state threatened lawsuit

The Golden Hearts saga began in August 2021, when state gaming regulators looked into the company’s website, according to the attorney general’s office.

The following year, the attorney general’s office issued the company a cease-and-desist. Golden Hearts ignored the letter and kept its Michigan online casino website going.

The state fired back with the threat of a lawsuit, letting Golden Hearts know the company would have to battle it out in state court. Facing a legal melee it did not want to engage in, Golden Hearts agreed to cease activity. And they signed an “Assurance of Discontinuance” bringing the saga to a close.

“My office is committed to ensuring that our gaming laws are strictly enforced and those who violate those laws are held accountable,” Nessel said in a Michigan Department of Attorney General press release.

Fight against illegal online casinos latest AG action against unlawful gambling

The Golden Hearts skirmish isn’t the only tussle that Nessel’s office has initiated. The AG pushed back against illegal online gaming, announcing convictions and plea deals over the past few years.

One of Nessel’s most consistent messages is that gambling on illegal websites puts consumers’ safety at risk and robs the state’s education systems.

Additionally, her office has made efforts to help consumers make sense of gambling promos, particularly at Super Bowl time. In 2021, the AG issued a statement warning bettors in Michigan about sportsbook promos that seem to offer “free” bets but don’t. Nessel said:

“In some instances, site users may be required to spend or deposit a certain amount of money into an account before receiving their free play credits, and users should make themselves aware of such conditions so they are not taken off guard.”

Photo by Paul Sancya File / AP Photo; illustrated by PlayUSA
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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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