Fenton schools Superintendent Tim Jalkanen has denied the allegations of Michigan’s Gaming Control Board that the a local elementary school participated in illegal charitable poker games, saying the district is “not doing anything inappropriate.”
“We don’t have anything to hide,” Jalkanen told Michigan Live.
He said school affiliated events Pocket Aces Poker Room in Flint Township, whose operations were suspended earlier this week by the state gaming board in an emergency order by the state, were fundraisers for school supplies and to offset athletic department costs.
In its Oct. 22 emergency order closing poker room, the state regulatory board alleged that Fenton’s State Road Elementary School, Fenton-based charity Emily’s Helping Hand Foundation and an upper peninsula school falsified gaming records and took in excessive profits from charitable events.
Charges have not been filed and the investigation is ongoing. Jalkanen said school officials plan to meet with the gaming board to go over financial documents related to the fundraising events at Pocket Aces.
Officials with Pocket Aces Poker Room and Emily’s Helping Hand Foundation could not be reached for comment, according to the report.
Rick Kalm, the executive director of the state gaming board, said the allegations concern a gray area that lawmakers didn’t contemplate when crafting the state’s Bingo Act.
The law “never contemplated poker room casinos,” said Kalm, who has proposed several new regulations that critics have said could permanently close charity poker rooms, where $103 million has been raised for Michigan charities over the past nine years.
Kalm said the law provides for the licensing of charities for events at fraternal halls and festivals, but doesn’t mention poker rooms.
”There is no licensing, background checks for dealers, surveillance, independent auditing mandating for locations in the law, as it wasn’t designed for that,” he said.
DISCUSS: Do you think charitable poker rooms should be more closely regulated by the Michigan Gaming Control Board? Tell us why or why not in the comments.