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Politics & Government

Crackdown on Michigan charity poker rooms brings backlash

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Against the odds?

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Poker's rise in popularity has helped Michigan's charities and civic groups stay afloat at a time of dwindling donations from elsewhere.

And efforts to rein in a charitable gambling industry that has grown more than 20-fold in a decade are sparking backlash.

At stake is the future of "millionaire parties." The casino-style events allow nonprofits licensed to hold gambling events to split cash proceeds with unlicensed poker rooms that provide the space, dealers and supplies.

Many churches, veterans groups and prep sports booster clubs like the system, but authorities say "de facto casinos" at bars and poker rooms are out of control.

New regulations would restrict the events. A public hearing is expected later this month, and lawmakers could soon weigh in on what has become a contentious issue.