Yesterday, the Attorney General of North Dakota unveiled an agreement with three distributors of gambling equipment he accused of breaching the state’s charitable gambling regulations and laws in April. However, the companies’ licenses could now be in danger if the Attorney General finds some issues with an email about the aforementioned settlement that, as he claims, has been sent to their customers.
The agreement, which includes an acknowledgement of wrongdoing, as well as a $125,000 fine, comes at a time when North Dakotan lawmakers and gambling regulatory bodies have been fighting some issues associated with so-called electronic pull-tab machines, which have proliferated in the state since 2018. This spring, however, the state Legislature passed a piece of legislation aimed at imposing some limits on the devices that pretty much look and function like slot machines.
At the same time, a legislative study of charitable gambling issues has started within the local Legislature.
As mentioned above, in April 2023, Attorney General Drew Wrigley filed an administrative complaint against Midwest Gaming Distributing Inc., Plains Gaming Distributing Inc., and Western Distributing Company, accusing the distributors of facilitating excessive rent payments and trying to influence the charitable gambling activities of local bars through the Wall of Honor veterans non-profit organization.
Attorney General’s Office to Review Controversial Email Sent to Distributors’ Customers
The Attorney General of North Dakota had alleged that a scheme involving the Wall of Honor had been used by the aforementioned companies to lure bars into using electronic pull-tab machines that are provided exclusively by the three distributors and to convince bars to switch charitable gambling organizations.
According to Mr. Wrigley, the alleged gaming violations undermine the integrity of charitable gaming in the state, with the companies violating the public trust and the trust of the charities relying on them. He further explained that the Gaming Division of the Attorney General’s office is working hard to protect the integrity of the limited charitable gaming that is currently legal under the state’s laws.
Attorney General Wrigley had sought to revoke the licenses of the three distributors and impose some fines.
He shared that he was reviewing the email that the distributors sent to their customers and any related statements, explaining that under the provisions of the agreement, the companies should have refrained from making any statements contrary to the terms and acknowledgements of the settlement. According to Mr. Wrigley, the email was quite a significant and concerning development, especially considering the fact that it was a legal matter rather than a public relations matter for the distributors.
As mentioned above, the settlement’s terms included a maximum $125,000 fine imposed on the three gambling distributors that are also required to pay for the costs incurred by North Dakota’s Attorney General’s office that so far total more than $36,000. Apart from that, the President and shareholder of Western and Plains Dave Wisdom, as well as his immediate relatives, are set to be removed from the companies’ ownership and any other involvement with the three distributors.
As part of the settlement, the distributors would also make an acknowledgement of wrongdoing and of inaccurate public statements. The three companies could also see their licenses revoked in case they do not comply with the terms of the settlement or in case they commit other violations over the next three years.