MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – A professional poker player from Gwinn has been sentenced to probation for running an illegal gambling operation in Marquette.

Joshua T. Thatcher, 42, was sentenced to 12 months probation on January 19, 2023, after he pled guilty to one felony count of Gambling Operations on December 2, 2022. Thatcher operated an illegal poker room known as 906 Poker Social formerly located at 1200 S. Front St., Marquette, according to a release from the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB).

As part of his plea agreement, Thatcher forfeited all items seized from the location to the State of Michigan. Items included six poker tables, $13,050 in cash and other money held in bank accounts connected to the investigation of 906 Poker Social.

The poker room began operation on April 1, 2021, and was closed by July 8, 2021, after a joint investigation by the Michigan Department of Attorney General and Michigan Gaming Control Board Criminal Investigation section.

Thatcher described 906 Poker Social as a private membership club where members gambled against each other, according to reports published regarding the case. Thatcher charged members a fee based on weekly, monthly or yearly membership plus a $10 per hour chair rental fee. The location offered live poker and other games.

The Michigan Department of the Attorney General prosecuted the case. Attorney General Dana Nessel included the following statement in the MGCB release:

“My office remains committed to upholding business rules and regulations, and that includes our state’s gambling laws. I appreciate the work the Michigan Gaming Control Board has done to protect Michigan residents and businesses.”

Judge Jennifer A. Mazzuchi of the 25th Circuit Court in Marquette presided over Thatcher’s sentencing.

“Unregulated gambling operations do not offer Michigan residents the same protections provided through legal, regulated gambling,” said Henry Williams, executive director, Michigan Gaming Control Board. “The Michigan Gaming Control Board’s mission is to ensure fair and honest gaming in Michigan, and we partner with the Michigan Department of Attorney General to investigate and eliminate illegal gaming activities across the state.”

In May 2022, Thatcher was charged with five additional felony counts, including two counts of using computers to commit a crime, and a high misdemeanor count of permitting a gambling house for gain. The other counts later were dismissed.