Connie Durham, the 69-year-old former owner of Stony Creek Internet cafe in Ypsilanti Township, was sentenced to a year’s probation and 50 hours of community service on Tuesday for running an illegal gambling operation out of her Whittaker Road business, which is now closed for good.
According to a Michigan Gaming Control Board press release, 37 gaming machines and computers, along with $6,012 in cash and gift cards, were confiscated from Stony Creek once warrants were served. After being charged with six felonies and a misdemeanor, Durham pled guilty to a single felony charge of gambling operations on Feb. 7.
Durham’s operation proves that you’re never too long in the tooth to be a criminal mastermind. Four of her employees are facing similar charges, and two of them — 67-year-old Beverly Weatherspoon and 77-year-old Cecil Robertson — are similar in age to the Gamblin’ Granny Of Ypsilanti.
“Illegal gambling operations typically target vulnerable people and don’t offer patron protections such as self-exclusion options, reviewed and approved games, and machines or dispute resolution,” Henry Williams, the MGCB’s executive director, said in the press release. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel added, “Illegal gambling diverts taxes and revenue from our communities which is otherwise used to support our state and schools.”
Simultaneously permissive and unforgiving
Michigan has more legal gambling options than just about any other state, with online and brick-and-mortar versions of casino gaming, slots, poker, and sports betting fully regulated and permitted. At the same time, the state stands alone in its vigilance in breaking up illegal gambling operations large and small, with a special sub-unit of the MGCB dedicated to shuttering dens of three-cherry iniquity like Durham’s.
In 2022, the sub-unit executed search warrants at seven unlicensed pop-up casinos, confiscating 373 machines and resulting in the conviction of 17 individuals for illegal gambling activities.
“Every time we conduct a search warrant, we put out a press release,” Kurt Steinkamp, deputy director of the MGCB, told MI Bets in March. “We’ve been very vocal about this.”
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