Michigan Gaming Control Board: Executive Director Kalm Stepping Down, Deputy Williams Next Leader

Written By Matt Schoch on April 23, 2021
Richard Kalm Leaving 2021

With online sports betting and internet gaming off the ground in Michigan, the state’s gambling regulator is getting a new leader.

Richard Kalm announced Friday morning that he’s stepping down as executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board after more than 13 years in the post. Soon after, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her appointment to fill the position, as deputy director Henry Williams will be tabbed.

Kalm will stay in his role until Williams, who heads the regulator’s casino operations division, is approved by the Senate.

Gretchen Whitmer appoints Henry Williams to six-year term

Henry Williams

Whitmer appointed Williams, who has worked for the MGCB since 2001, to a six-year term.

Prior to joining the MGCB, Williams was a social worker and probation officer.

“The mission of the Gaming Control Board is to ensure the conduct of fair, honest gaming,” Whitmer said in a separate release from the Kalm announcement.

“With the nomination of Henry Williams, I am confident that the board will continue protecting and advancing the interests of Michiganders and the state.”

A Detroit resident, Williams is a Marygrove College graduate.

“This appointment affirms my life lessons to my daughter — what hard work, dedication, commitment, and treating people fairly with dignity can do,” Williams said in the Whitmer release.

“I will be able to continue serving the citizens of the great State of Michigan as I have done over the past 24 years with pride and sincere joy.”

Michigan online gambling was Richard Kalm’s final hurdle

In the announcement, Kalm detailed how getting expanded online gambling launched this year was the final hurdle he hoped to clear.

“I’ve had a great run and accomplished my final goal with the successful launch of online gaming and sports betting,” Kalm said in a news release. “My career has been devoted to public service, and I have enjoyed serving the people of Michigan since 2007 as MGCB executive director. Our agency’s mission has grown since my initial appointment, and I am proud of the MGCB’s accomplishments during my tenure.”

Whitmer signed expanded gambling laws in December 2019. From there, Kalm oversaw the process of implementation, including the drafting of rules in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online sports betting and online casinos launched Jan. 22 and has been a sterling success.

In addition to no major stumbles, internet gaming raised $204.2 million in revenue and $35.6 million in state tax revenue in the first 69 days.

Michiganders made $776.5 million in online sports bets in the first 69 days. Numbers were available through the end of March. The MGCB also oversees retail sports betting in Detroit’s casinos.

That process launched in March 2020. Combined with statewide online sports betting, Michigan will cross the $1 billion mark in sports betting handle when April’s revenue numbers are released.

Many changes in MGCB during Kalm’s tenure

Kalm was appointed in 2007, overseeing regulation of the Detroit casinos throughout that period.

In 2010, the MGCB also added the regulation of pari-mutuel horse racing in the state. In 2012, oversight of charitable millionaire parties was moved from under the Michigan Lottery to the MGCB’s purview.

The agency also oversees compliance of Michigan’s 12 federally recognized tribes for their compacts with the state.

The MGCB’s headquarters also moved from East Lansing to the New Center Area in downtown Detroit. The new location is closer to the city’s downtown casinos.

Kalm is a graduate of Wayne State University and the FBI National Academy. He worked more than 30 years with the Macomb County sheriff’s office.

Kalm was appointed by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and then reappointed in 2013 by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Photo by Michigan Gaming Control Board
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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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