Michigan judge issues permanent injunction to stop new rules on Vegas-style charity gambling

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DETROIT — Operators of Las Vegas-style charitable gambling events are claiming a "significant win" after a judge barred Michigan from enforcing rules that significantly restrict the activities.

Michigan Court of Claims Judge Pat Donofrio issued a permanent injunction Thursday against enforcing the May 14 order by the Michigan Gaming Control Board. Donofrio's decision confirms a temporary restraining order he issued May 30. The board said it sought to assure that gambling operators don't exploit charities for their own profit.

The Michigan Charitable Gaming Association and several charities sued to keep a state board from enforcing the rules, which they say would cost millions of dollars in revenue. Charitable gambling exploded in Michigan to a peak of $197 million reported to the state in 2011 from $7.9 million in 2002.

"This is a significant win for our charities," Jean Kordenbrock, manager of the Michigan Charitable Gaming Association, told The Associated Press in an email. "Judge Donofrio has granted the plaintiffs' motion and permanently enjoined all of the rules that were promulgated last year."

The Associated Press left phone and email messages Sunday seeking comment from the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

The court decision leaves in place emergency rules that took effect July 2 and that mirror the gambling board's order. Kordenbrock said the emergency rules remain in effect for six months and Gov. Rick Snyder can renew them for six more months, "but eventually, new rules would have to be promulgated."

Kordenbrock said she hoped that the Michigan Legislature takes up the issue in September and that "they do the right thing and help us work out something that will stop this nonsense."

Michigan gambling regulators stepped in to more tightly regulate charity gambling after complaints that charities were being unfairly treated by gambling groups running the events. Charities got 81 percent of the proceeds a decade ago but now receive half under profit-sharing agreements never envisioned when the games were authorized in a 1976 update of the Bingo Act, regulators said.

The rules that Donofrio overturned would have given charities more of a take and limited the number of events.

Under the rules, poker rooms that host many of the "millionaire party" events could have operated just 208 days a year and could have had no more than two parties per location in a day. Their cut of the profits would be limited to 45 percent.


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