History Of Casino Gambling In Michigan

100 Years Of Fascinating History of Gambling Casinos in Michigan

Michigan has a long and complex history with gambling and casinos. From the days of prohibition and illegal gambling to the modern-day commercial and tribal casinos, the state has seen it all. In this blog post, we will look closer at the history of gambling casinos in Michigan and how they have evolved over the past 100 years.

Michigan Gambling and Prohibition

History Of Gambling Casinos In Michigan
Casino Scene in the 1800s – National Archives

In the early 1900s, gambling was illegal in Michigan, and prohibition only fueled the underground gambling industry. Speakeasies and illegal gambling establishments popped up all over the state, and organized crime began to take notice. The numbers racket, which involved illegal lotteries, became a profitable business for organized crime, and by the 1920s, it was estimated to be a $1 billion industry nationwide.

The Numbers Racket and Organized Crime in Gambling

Organized crime groups saw the potential for profits in the numbers racket and other forms of illegal gambling and began taking control of the industry. The infamous Purple Gang, a Jewish-American organized crime syndicate, gained control of the Detroit numbers racket in the 1920s and 1930s, making millions of dollars in profits.

Playing the Numbers

The term “playing the numbers” usually refers to illegal gambling that involves placing bets on the outcome of a daily or weekly lottery or drawing. The game is often run by organized crime groups and is known as the “numbers game” or “policy game.”

Here is an outline of how the game is typically played:

  1. Players choose a three-digit number between 000 and 999.
  2. A winning number is drawn daily or weekly, depending on the game.
  3. If a player’s number matches the winning number, they win a cash prize. The payout is usually based on the odds of winning and the amount of money bet.

Players can place bets on multiple numbers, increasing their chances of winning and the amount of money they risk.

The game is often played on the streets, with bookies or runners collecting bets and paying out winnings. It is illegal in most states, and players can face fines or jail time if caught participating in the game.

Gambling As a Crime Until the 1980s

It wasn’t until the 1980s that the state began to legalize and regulate gambling. In 1972, a state lottery was approved, followed by the legalization of pari-mutuel horse racing in 1976. But it wasn’t until the 1980s that the state began to seriously consider the idea of allowing casinos.

Beginning of Indian Casinos in Michigan

The modern-day history of gambling casinos in Michigan started in 1984 when the Bay Mills Indian Community opened the first tribal casino in Michigan. The casino was located on tribal land and operated without interference from the state. Other tribes soon followed suit, and by the late 1990s, several tribal casinos were operating in the state.

In the 1980s, several Native American tribes began to open casinos on their lands, citing their sovereign rights. This led to legal battles with the state, which initially tried to shut down the casinos. However, in 1988, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed, which allowed tribes to operate casinos on their lands as long as they followed certain regulations. This paved the way for the expansion of tribal gaming across Michigan, with several casinos opening in the following decades.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 provided a legal framework for Indian gaming, allowing tribes to operate casinos on their lands as long as they followed certain regulations. This paved the way for the expansion of tribal gaming across Michigan, with several casinos opening in the following decades.

What was the first casino in Michigan?

In Brimley, Michigan’s Kings Club Casino first opened its doors in 1984. It was the country’s first casino that was owned by a tribe. The Bay Mills Indian Community owns and runs it.

Michigan State Gaming Compact

In 1996, Michigan voters approved a proposal to allow three commercial casinos to open in Detroit. This was a major shift for the state, which had previously only allowed gambling on Native American lands. The three casinos, MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino Hotel, and Greektown Casino-Hotel, opened in the early 2000s and have become major attractions in the city.

The Current State Of Casino Gambling in Michigan

Today, Michigan is home to several tribal and commercial casinos, which provide jobs and generate significant revenue for both the tribes and the state. In January 2021, the state launched online sports betting and casino gaming, making Michigan the fifth state in the US to offer online gambling.

Major Casinos Operating in Michigan

Motor City Casino Detroit
Motor City Casino Detroit – Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Some of the major casinos operating in Michigan:

  • MGM Grand Detroit – Located in Detroit 
  • MotorCity Casino Hotel – Located in Detroit 
  • Greektown Casino-Hotel – Located in Detroit 
  • Four Winds Casino Resort – Located in New Buffalo 
  • FireKeepers Casino Hotel – Located in Battle Creek 
  • Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort – Located in Mount Pleasant 
  • Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel – Located in Williamsburg
  • Little River Casino Resort – Located in Manistee
  • Odawa Casino Resort – Located in Petoskey and Mackinaw City
  • Bay Mills Resort & Casino – Located in Brimley

Please note that there may be other smaller casinos or tribal gaming facilities operating in Michigan as well.

Final Thoughts about The History of Gambling Casinos in Michigan

The history of gambling and casinos in Michigan has been a wild ride, from prohibition and illegal gambling to modern-day commercial and tribal casinos. Despite legal battles and shifting attitudes towards gambling, the industry has continued to thrive in the state, providing entertainment and economic benefits to the tribes and the state. Today casinos offer a multitude of gaming options, including sportsbook betting.

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Veronica Morley

Veronica Morley recently graduated from Tufts University and majored in Computer Science with a minor in Literature. She currently resides in Palo Alto, California. She is a contributing writer and developer to the site AITrueReview.

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