Gambling enforcement investigators say they have seized an illegal gambling duo who roamed Twin Cities area casinos and paid gamblers to watch TikTok livestreams to play slot machines in hopes of making a fortune, the state agency said for the first time.
An agent with the Minnesota Division of Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement disclosed in a court filing this week that two men have been operating their remote gaming operations at the Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake and the Treasure Island Resort & Casino outside the Red Wing, Violation of laws prohibiting betting on behalf of others.
Nicole Roddy, a spokeswoman for the agency, acknowledged the ongoing investigation, adding, “Prior to that case, we had not had any other reports of this nature.”
The search warrant affidavit targeted a 39-year-old man from Edina who, the agency said, charged him an initial subscription fee of $5.99 through the Cash App and then kept 25 for every $100 he deposited to wager. US dollars, he live-streams Douyin on the video-sharing app. The affidavit said the man’s younger brother was also involved at times. Neither has yet been charged with a crime, and the Star Tribune typically does not name suspects until they have been charged.
The affidavit filed Tuesday seeks permission from the Hennepin County District Court to obtain information on the man’s currency transactions and other financial records through October, Cash App login history and customer service records, among other information.
Documents and archived videos on the man’s main TikTok account, which has 165,000 followers from around the world, show that at least one casino has been operating over the past three months. A meeting ends before dawn on Thursday.
The affidavit did not specify how much money was won or lost during any of the livestreamed sessions. Video highlights archived on the man’s TikTok page show wads of cash on display, with slot machines occasionally racking up large payouts, including as much as $15,000 last month.
The American Gaming Association, which represents sportsbooks and casinos across the country, said it had never heard of such a gambling scheme. Alex Costello, the association’s vice president of government relations, said, “Actions like this violate casino … anti-money laundering protocols and pose a threat to our financial system.”
Executives at both casinos appear to be eyeing TikTok gaming operations. January. According to the affidavit, on Dec. 12, the man spoke live on air about being kicked out of Mystic Lake during a previous visit. In his car outside Treasure Island that same day, he said he “just received a permanent trespass notice,” the affidavit read.
Eric Pehle, a longtime spokesman for the Prairie Isle Indian community and its casino, said, “Of all my work with the casino, this is a new one for me. People were shocked, and in many ways it wasn’t.”
Pehle said the Prairie Island Gaming Commission began receiving tips about the TikTok gaming company on Jan. 1. 6, January banned him from casinos. 9 and kicked him out again in January. 12.
“When we become aware of a potential threat that could harm a business or call into question its integrity, we act quickly,” said Clayton Ticks, the council’s executive director. “When we learn that someone is using his social media platform to place bets for others, that’s exactly what the Gambling Commission is doing.
“While social media influencers are permitted to broadcast on our property, betting for others is not permitted.”
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Gaming Enterprise, which operates Mystic Lake, said in a statement Friday that it allowed live streaming “limited to guests and their own parties.” [and] Any betting activity that results in profiting from other people’s bets is prohibited. “
The alleged live-streaming gambler has yet to respond to several messages from the Star Tribune, and state officials declined to comment on specifics of the case, citing ongoing investigations ahead of possible charges.
However, an affidavit from its attorney lays out in great detail how cross-border ventures have attracted followers:
An informant from Las Vegas contacted the state in January. A man and his brother were live-streaming from casinos through various TikTok accounts and collecting money from followers to play on slot machines, it was reported on Sept. 9.This man “takes a cut of what his followers pay him, which is [he] Refers to deposits or donations, but is understood as a follower’s total stake. “
Another informant, the mother of a 16-year-old from Pennsylvania, heard about the TikTok betting company on the night of January 12. 11″ just before her [son] Penny… gambling money. “
The state agent said she personally watched the Treasure Island live broadcast that night and, “I observed [him] engaged in the same illegal gambling activities described by the Las Vegas whistleblower”.
“It is clear [he] was … betting on his followers during the live broadcast,” the state agent wrote in her affidavit.[He] Players will be asked verbally by name which slot machine they would like [him] play for them. “
At one point, a player in a TikTok chat asked if the minimum bet was $100 or $200. To avoid being exposed as someone else’s bet, the man verbally responded, “What’s the minimum bet? You mean a deposit. It’s $125.” At other times, gamblers make payments known as “donations.”
Roddy, whose agency has worked in Minnesota since 1996, noted that when it comes to any illegal gambling, “it’s not just about making sure people obey the law; it’s about consumer protection.”
Otherwise, she added, “if you place a bet, there’s no guarantee you’ll get paid if you win. There’s no way of knowing whether the bet will be played fairly.”