California Poker Room Hit With $8 Million Penalty For Not Enforci

Posted by Carolyn on Nov 21, 2017 Posted in Poker Industry News | No Comments »

Casinos are one of the key targets for criminals who are looking to commit money laundering which is basically turning their black money into white. They end up taking vast amounts of money, purchasing chips at a casino or poker room and after playing for a bit; they then cash their chips and have valid receipt as to where they got their funds from.

The United States has put in place stringent money laundering regulations and asked casino operators to pay special attention in enforcing them to ensure that their properties do not get exploited in money laundering activities. However not all casino operators are willing to take a tough stance on enforcing these money laundering regulations simply because VIP players are not willing to disclose the source of their funds and if casino operators insist on this protocol, they risk losing their VIP customers and a chunk of business.

Deliberate Money Laundering Violations

Artichoke Joe’s Casino, a poker room in California could have fallen into this trap as the poker room has been accused by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of deliberately overlooking anti-money laundering regulations and turning a blind eye to money laundering activities from 2009 to 2017. Joe’s Casino has around 17 poker tables and over 35 traditional card tables and does see a steady stream of players visiting its premises.

The authorities first raided Artichoke Joe’s Casino in March 2011 and found that loan sharking and money laundering activities were taking place openly and that casino employees were deliberately turning a blind eye. The poker room was given a racketeering indictment and two customers were convicted for carrying out illegal activities including loan sharking. The authorities continued their investigation into Artichoke Joe’s Casino and found that during the 2009 to 2017 period, a number of money laundering violations had been committed.

FINCEN decided to impose an $8 million fine on Artichoke Joe’s Casino which is a record fine which was brought about because of the severity of the violations and the lengthy duration in which it occurred.

Strong Message To Casinos

The California government is also looking to send out a strong message to casino operators and poker room in the state that they must fully comply with money laundering regulations and report any illegal activities or they could face similar penalties. There are over 90 gaming operators in California and in recent years a number of them have been pulled up for not being more stringent on their anti-money laundering regulations.

The Hawaiian Gardens Casino was also pulled up by FINCEN in 2016 for similar money laundering violations and received a $2.8 million fine. The Bicycle Casino which is another cardroom in California was also targeted in April of this year for not being strict with its money laundering policies and the cardroom was shutdown as a result for a brief period. State gaming regulators are continuing their investigation into Artichoke Joe’s Casino and there is a strong possibility that the cardroom could end up losing its gaming license.

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