The Sting Is On in Michigan

3 April 2000
Michigan punters beware: The Internet Crimes Task Force (ICTF), a unit of the Wayne County Sheriff's Department, is setting up a bogus website to snare illegal bets made by Michigan residents during tonight's NCAA game between Michigan State and Florida.

The ICTF is promoting its "sticky" site in chat rooms, hoping to catch some big fish betting online tonight. "We're not looking for the armchair quarterback," explained Sgt. Greg Gordish, a member of the Internet Crime Bureau. "We're looking for the big-time gambler... bookies, anyone who bets big money. We're not looking for the penny-ante bettors."

Gordish says that Michigan punters could face up to two years in prison and a $2000 fine for their illegal wagers, although he admitted that most bettors will only receive a citation. NCAA players who bet on their game, however, will immediately be turned over to the prosecutor's office (or their local authorities, if a Florida player is caught). The ICTF is pursuing illegal gambling under Michigan Act 235, although the law doesn't clearly state that placing a bet online is illegal.

The bogus betting site, located at, showcases the law enforcement group's creative ability in building a viable betting site. The site likely won't land law enforcement any high rollers because it clearly lacks professionalism and thus believability. For starters, it's riddled with typos and features an unencrypted credit card form. Further, it doesn't post any team names or betting lines (both of which are typically perceived by most bettors as relatively important) and instead asks players to enter the team names into text boxes.

This is the second time the bureau has used the site to reel in illegal Michigan punters. The first time, during the Super Bowl, wasn't as successful as they had hoped it would be, Gordish admitted. He also added that it will probably be used more often this year.

It isn't clear what law the ICTF was attempting to enforce during the Super Bowl, which was played in January 2000. Michigan Act 235 just became effective March 10, 2000.

Vicky Nolan joined the IGN staff in October 1999. She's best known for inventing fire, the wheel and swiss cheese. She can be reached at