This is not the first Poker room the state has closed down in the last week. First it was Pocket Aces and now Palace Poker.

The dozens of employees who work there and the charities who use it are now wondering what's next. All charitable poker and gaming has been suspended. The Michigan Gaming Control Board alleged the poker room would run charity games, often without a single member of the charity in attendance, and in turn the charity would get a cut for letting Pocket Aces use their license.

The state alleges Palace Poker used a "pay-to-play scheme" requiring groups illegally divert their proceeds in exchange for being scheduled for events.  If charities refused?  They wouldn't get an event.

The MGCB issued a statement:

The investigation has preliminarily revealed many material violations of Michigan's Bingo Act, which authorizes charitable poker events and possibly other criminal laws. This prompted an emergency summary suspension of all licensed charity events at this location in order to protect the welfare and integrity of charitable gaming. The licensed charity groups scheduled to hold future events at this location are being redirected to other venues.

The preliminary investigation has revealed multiple cases where charities were instructed by Palace Poker Room employees or agents to unlawfully divert up to half of their gaming profits to a checking account of an organization known as "Renegades Travel Baseball." Renegade's checking account was controlled by an owner/agent of Palace Poker Room. Renegades is not a charity allowed to conduct charitable gaming.

This "Pay-to-Play" scheme was conducted over several years and involved multiple charities. This is in direct violation of the Bingo Act and possibly other criminal laws. Investigators have confirmed to date charities unlawfully diverted over $100,000. And the amount is anticipated to grow as the investigation continues. Further, additional unlicensed organizations representing themselves as charities appear to have received diverted charity profits.

The investigation also revealed Palace Poker Room employees or agents violated numerous other provisions of the law, including managing the charity event without the charity or chairperson being present and completing and/or falsifying charity gaming and financial records.

The state previously banned all gaming at Palace Poker Room for similar illegal and fraudulent activity in 2010.

Palace Poker is one of the state's top grossing poker rooms with over $2 million in gambling profits just from 2010-2012, according to the state.Owner Al Crossnoe declined comment.

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