Rule Change Gives Michigan Problem Gamblers A Path Back To Detroit Casinos

Written By Matt Schoch on October 28, 2020
problem gambling

Gamblers who once banned themselves for life from Detroit’s three casinos may soon have a path back inside.

And an advocacy group for responsible gambling in Michigan endorses the idea.

For the first time in nearly 20 years, individuals who have been on the Disassociated Persons List can ask off after at least five years on it.

A new law, Public Act 225 of 2020, allows persons to ask off the Michigan Gaming Control Board self-exclusionary list. The law is endorsed by a responsible gambling advocacy group and the bill sponsor was Rep. Ryan Berman, a Republican from Commerce Township.

The change comes as Michigan expands gambling options in the state, including the upcoming launch of online gambling later this year.

What is the Disassociated Persons List in Michigan?

Pursuant to Michigan law from 1996, the MGCB developed the Disassociated Persons List.

The voluntary program allowed applicants to make a lifetime pledge to never visit a Detroit casino. The board sends the list to each casino, the state’s attorney general, and the state police.

An individual on the list who enters a Detroit casino is guilty of criminal trespassing punishable by imprisonment for no more than a year, a fine of no more than $1,000, or both.

As of Oct. 1, the list included 4,825 people who banned themselves from Detroit casinos since 2001, according to the MGCB.

This act will allow applicants to get off the list after being on for five years. For an application to join the Disassociated Persons List, call 1-888-223-3044.

The state’s 23 tribal casinos have their own gaming commissions and rules.

MGCB has received requests to get off list

Richard Kalm, the MGCB executive director, said he’s received requests from people who want to remove their names in the past. That option is now available.

“Previously, the state used criminal law to combat a gambling problem for a lifetime, which is an expensive, harsh way to deal with an addiction,” Kalm said in a statement.

“A lifetime ban actually may deter some people from signing up. For others, their life circumstances may have changed.”

Kalm acknowledged problem gamblers could still request removal and resume behaviors they sought to prevent by going on the list.

The MGCB has already received at least one application to come off the list. The board has 30 business days to process a request. The board will send written notification to applicants whether their request was approved or denied via email or US mail.

Casino officials can still exclude a person after their name is removed from the list. The MGCB encourages those persons to contact the casinos directly in that case.

Responsible gambling advocate signs off

Michael Burke, president of the Michigan Association on Problem Gambling, thinks the change makes the barrier to sign up for the program less daunting.

“The majority of our board felt the Disassociated Persons List lifetime ban in Michigan may have acted as a deterrent to gamblers who may be more likely to sign up if they have other self-exclusion options such as a two- or five-year ban available,” Burke said.

Burke, who lives in Portage, is a former attorney who gambled away $1.6 million of his clients’ money at casinos in Detroit and Windsor. He spent three years in jail but has not gambled in nearly two decades and has worked to prevent others from falling victim.

You can reach the Michigan Problem Gambling Hotline at 1-800-270-7117.

The form to get off the Disassociated Persons List is here.

Photo by Dreamstime stock
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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He’s also the former host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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