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Michigan Madness

Misbehaving at Michigan with Dr. Phil

Michigan Madness

There were a few bizarre stories coming out of the industry this month, but none more so than a couple of tales from the Indian casinos of Michigan, where it seems a few gamblers must be drinking the lake water again.

I’ll give you the one that has Dr. Phil in it first, since, you know, it has Dr. Phil in it.

It all started with a gambler running around in his underwear at the Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Michigan last summer. No, it wasn’t Dr. Phil, although I’m sure people would have paid to see that. We’ll call this guy Bernie, since he goes on trial this month, and, here at Global Gaming Business, people are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

On August 5, Pokagon Band tribal police were called with a report of a man walking outside the Four Winds in his tighty whities. It was our pal Bernie, who told the tribal cop that he was on his way to Los Angeles to appear on the Dr. Phil show.

According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, the tribal police drove Bernie to Michigan City, Indiana, where he was picked up by an Uber driver and taken to the airport for his flight to Los Angeles.

The story doesn’t say whether they made him put his clothes on first, but I’m guessing the Uber driver wouldn’t have picked up a naked man.

But there’s more. Walking around in his underwear was apparently only the coda of Bernie’s little summer symphony. There had been complaints that he had made “inappropriate comments” to young girls near the casino pool, and he also did a Keith Moon on his hotel room—smashing mirrors, breaking the flat-screen TV, tearing up carpet, punching holes in the wall, and generally trashing the place. Then, he went outside in his underwear.

You know, like you do.

It turns out Bernie was telling the truth about the Dr. Phil show. About a month after his Michigan meltdown, there he was on the couch with Dr. Phil, in an episode titled “A House On Fire, A Dog in Flames: Our Brother is Out of Control.”

Somewhere amid telling Dr. Phil his story, which may or may not have involved setting his dog on fire (I’m going to look for it on demand as soon as I’m done here), he told Dr. Phil all about how he trashed his hotel room at Four Winds. Federal prosecutors plan to enter a recording of the segment as evidence at his trial this month.

Evidently, no one told Bernie that doctor-patient confidentiality doesn’t really work when the session is broadcast on national TV.

By the way, I’m not sure of the legalities involved since it was a Native American casino, but I was surprised that trashing a hotel room is a federal case, prosecuted under indictment by the U.S. District Court. Good thing The Who never played at an Indian casino.

Anyway, Bernie wasn’t the only gambler in Michigan to go berserk last month. Over in Petoskey, a man was arrested for punching a tribal policeman repeatedly in the groin, and then stabbing him in the face and chest with a pen.

The officer, from the Little Traverse Band of Odawa Indians, was called after the man—let’s call him Larry—was kicked out of the Odawa Casino Resort with his wife, and the two kept trying to get back in. They had been cut off from alcohol at the craps table, mainly because the wife had been urinating on the floor.

You know, like you do.

The guy had driven to a different entrance of the casino before trying to get back in, and when the cop asked for identification, he ignored the officer and tried to leave. When the policeman told him he couldn’t get behind the wheel of his car because he was drunk, Larry went bonkers, punching and kicking and stabbing the guy with his pen.

Wow. I do drink in casinos sometimes, but I’m pretty sure I’d never do that. For one thing, I can never seem to find a pen when I need one.

According to an article in the Grand Rapids Press, the officer tried to defend himself with his baton, but Larry’s wife was in the way, perhaps getting rid of whatever liquid she didn’t shed at the craps table.

The article quotes an FBI agent. Yes, since it was a tribal officer, they called in the FBI, to handle a crazy, drunken couple.

They should have just called Dr. Phil.

Frank Legato
Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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