Billionaire Dan Gilbert, Once Arrested For Illegal Bookmaking, Cashes Out Of Ohio Gambling Industry

Ohio was unable to pass sports betting legislation in 2020, and now billionaire Dan Gilbert is out of gambling in Ohio, though the two don’t appear related.

According to a report from Crain’s Detroit Business, Gilbert has sold his remaining interest in JACK Entertainment, owner of Cleveland’s Las Vegas-style casino. The sale to the casino company’s management team came in December, the report said.

Gilbert has been winding down his involvement in the gambling industry in recent years. The report stated that Gilbert still has a “small, passive interest” in Horseshoe Casino Baltimore. Gilbert exited the Detroit casino gambling market in 2018. That state is expected to begin online gambling in the coming days.

“Moving forward, Dan and Jennifer Gilbert are focusing their energy and resources on the Gilbert Family Foundation and other projects that highlight their passion for Detroit and the cities the Rock Family of Companies calls home,” a spokesperson for Gilbert said.

In mid-2019, Gilbert suffered a stroke that involved a two-month hospital stay.

In December, Ohio lawmakers were unable to pass sports betting legislation. Legislation is expected to be considered again this year, with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine saying recently that it stands a chance at passage, potentially setting Ohio up for legal and regulated online sports betting in 2022.

Ohioans are eager for sports betting. The anticipation has caused some to slightly misinterpret DeWine’s recent comments. The legislative process has no guarantees.

Why is Gilbert getting out of gambling?

Gilbert, 59, saw his net worth skyrocket to about $50 billion in 2020, according to Forbes, thanks to the IPO of his Quicken Loans business.

He is now reportedly the 15th richest person in the country.

The gambling industry is currently in the midst of extraordinary growth due to the proliferation of online betting, ushered in by a mid-2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned a federal ban on sports wagering outside of Nevada. Why wouldn’t Gilbert want to be part of it?

That is unclear, but could a reason be his past involvement with illegal bookmaking?

In 2005, the Associated Press reported on Gilbert’s bookmaking activity while a student in Michigan.

“According to a story in the Lansing State Journal,” the report said, “Gilbert was arrested with three other students in 1981 on charges of operating a bookmaking ring at Michigan State that handled $114,000 in bets on football and basketball games. Gilbert was accused of conspiring to violate state gambling laws. He was fined, given three years’ probation and ordered to do 100 hours of community service, the paper said. The felony was dropped after he completed the sentences.”

That activity did not prevent him from buying the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005 for $375 million. Because he was never convicted of a crime, it doesn’t appear he would have had any trouble being involved with legal and regulated sports betting in the Buckeye State.