The beginning of the week saw the Lansing City Council adopt an ordinance under which certain penalties for illegal gambling are to be imposed. The ordinance is set to take effect immediately upon publication.
The restrictions were approved with a 7-1 vote and do not apply to gambling operations which are licensed by state authorities. In addition, some exemptions apply for certain fund-raising games which are being operated by non-profit organizations through the city of Lansing.
The only vote against the ordinance was the one of Brian Jackson, a Fourth Ward Council Member, who described the measure as too broad.
Under the ordinance voted by the City Council, gambling is defined as any game played for money or items of value, by using certain equipment, including slot terminals, cards, dice or computers.
Lansing officials have previously waited for the office of Michigan Attorney General to handle the enforcement of state gambling law on the territory of the City. This, however, led to delays because there are only two investigators who specialize in illegal gambling in the state of Michigan, said Adam Hussain, a Third Ward Council Member. According to him, the new ordinance provides Lansing officials with another tool to deal with illegal gambling in the city.
Illegal Gambling Targeted by Lansing City Council’s Ordinance
Under the recently adopted authoritative order, gambling is described as a misdemeanor offense, which is set to be punished with imprisonment for no more of 90 days and a monetary penalty of up to US$500. The ordinance further provides city officials to take civil action against a gambling venue by pronouncing it a “public nuisance”.
As explained by City Council members, enforcement would be based on a complaint, with the new rules set to target businesses which draw profit from illegal gambling services within city’s borders. Earlier in August, Mr. Hussein explained that illegal gambling operations have a negative effect on poorer neighborhoods in Lansing, as poorest members of society seemed to be the ones who are losing the most. According to the Third Ward Council Member, this could be equal to an exploitation of disadvantaged citizens by businesses which offer illegal gambling.
As mentioned above, the Fourth Ward Council Member Brian Jackson was the only City Council member who voted against the ordinance. According to him, the official authoritative order does not make a difference between large-scale gambling venues and small-scale gambling offered in private homes. Mr. Jackson also opposed a civil-asset forfeiture clause which provides city officials with the opportunity to seize money, equipment and other types of property which is proved to be associated with illegal gambling services provided within the borders of Lansing.
The above-mentioned civil asset forfeiture clause has also been criticised by bi-partisan members, according to whom the due process rights of suspects are violated by the practice.