Richard S. Kalm is set to officially step away as the Michigan Gaming Control Board executive director after 14 years.
Kalm announced Friday he will leave his position, having overseen the launch of online casino gaming and mobile sports betting in Michigan.
“I’ve had a great run and accomplished my final goal with the successful launch of online gaming and sports betting,” Kalm said. “My career has been devoted to public service, and I have enjoyed serving the people of Michigan since 2007 as MGCB executive director. Our agency’s mission has grown since my initial appointment, and I am proud of the MGCB’s accomplishments during my tenure.”
Also on Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer selected Kalm’s successor, appointing Henry L. Williams Jr. as executive director of the MGCB.
"The mission of the Gaming Control Board is to ensure the conduct of fair, honest gaming,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “With the nomination of Henry Williams, I am confident that the board will continue protecting and advancing the interests of Michiganders and the state.”
Williams currently serves as the deputy director of the casino operations division for the MGCB. In his role, he provides oversight of the Enforcement Section, Employee Licensing, Gaming Lab and Disassociated Persons program. Williams has worked for the MGCB since 2001 and has served as a regulation and enforcement officer, regulation manager of the employee licensing section and then acting deputy directory before becoming deputy director of the casino operations division.
“This appointment affirms my life lessons to my daughter, what hard work, dedication, commitment, and treating people fairly with dignity can do,” Williams said. “I will be able to continue serving the citizens of the great State of Michigan as I have done over the past 24-years with pride and sincere joy.”
Williams is appointed for a six-year term that will begin after the approval of the Senate by a record roll call vote. Kalm supports Gov. Whitmer’s decision to succeed him.
“I have worked closely with Henry for 14 years and promoted him to his current MGCB position as deputy director,” Kalm said. “I believe Gov. Whitmer has made a good choice in appointing Henry to be the next executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board.”
Kalm was appointed to his current position in 2007 while Detroit’s commercial casinos were in the process of constructing hotels. He was soon tasked with protecting the state’s interests during the Greektown Casino bankruptcy proceedings from 2008 until 2010.
He was also instrumental in moving the agency’s headquarters to the existing Cadillac Place state office space in Detroit from the rented space used in East Lansing.
“The agency was now closer to the entities we regulated, and we achieved cost savings,” Kalm said of the move.
Under Kalm, the MGCB grew from regulating the Detroit casinos and auditing the 12 federally recognized tribes’ compliance with the gaming compacts signed with the state. After a 2010 executive order, the MGCB also became the regulator for pari-mutuel horse racing. In 2012, an executive order moved oversight of millionaire parties, known as charitable poker, to the MGCB from the Michigan Lottery.
Kalm’s latest achievement was orchestrating the launch of Michigan’s online casino gaming and mobile sports bettingplatforms. Gov. Whitmer signed a package of gaming bills in December 2019 and the MGCB was tasked with overseeing the licensing and regulating for online gaming and sports betting.
Since the online launch on Jan. 22, online gaming and sports betting has recorded a combined $259 million in gross receipts. The resulting tax revenue will be used to educate children, fund economic development and support tribal communities across the state.
“I appreciate the opportunity Governor Whitmer gave me to stay on and oversee the launch of online gaming,” Kalm said. “It has been my pleasure to work with everyone involved in online gambling and sports betting in Michigan, including the commercial and tribal casinos, the gaming suppliers, the Governor’s Office, other state departments and the Legislature.”
In addition to leading the launch of online gaming, Kalm had to oversee the closures of the three Detroit commercial casinos and the pari-mutuel race track Northville Downs due to COVID-19 concerns. The pandemic forced the MGCB to work remotely, where it could safely develop the online rules for online gaming and sports betting, which were later approved by the Michigan Legislature in early December. Michigan became the first U.S. state to license both commercial and tribal casinos for online gaming and sports betting.
Kalm also led the 2020 launch of mobile wagering on live and simulcast horse racing.
“The agency adapted quickly in 2020, helping the casinos and the track shut down safely and developing guidelines for the resumption of business when the orders changed,” Kalm said. “As we note the success, we also need to keep problem gambling and prevention and treatment resources a part of the ongoing conversation about gambling in Michigan.”