Macau Casino in Washington State to pay $1.25 million to the Gambling Commission to cover the cost of the investigation in two of its venues accused of money laundering and loan gaming.
The payment will partially cover the cost incurred during three years of investigation and also serve as a warning to other casinos.
Washington Gambling Commission, together with the Tukwila Police Department, commenced the inquiry back in 2016. This was after the casino was accused of money laundering and loan sucking gaming at Tukwila and Lakewood venues.
In a statement to Casino.org, Washington State Gambling Commission Director Dave Trujillo said that the penalty was a message to those involved in the investigation as well as others in the industry. He added that they would continue to take necessary steps to eliminate criminal elements out of the gambling industry.
The Gambling Commission reported that the investigation uncovered that evidence of illegal activities:
“A publicly unnamed 45-year-old female employee brought bags containing $20bills into the casinos which were handed to accused co-conspirators to buy-in on games. They would play for a brief time before cashing out for $100 bills. The suspect also loaned cash and chips to casino patrons and charged exorbitant interest rates on the loans,” the commission statement said.
High-Interest Loans Allegedly Made to Vulnerable Players
The statement further stated that the casino targeted players who had gambling problems. Most of them earned minimum wage and struggled to repay the owed loan on either a monthly or weekly basis, which had an interest rate of 10 and 15 percent, respectively.
The commission reported having uncovered evidence that points out that casino employees used force when collecting debts. KOMO, a Seattle based radio station, said in March that a high-interest loan was made to about 100 players and casino workers. KOMO added that the scheme also carried $1.5 million launderings via the casino.
According to KOMO, the gambling commission, together with the police, searched the female employee residence and uncovered expensive items which include: fancy cars, jewels, smartphones, gaming platforms, tablets, among others, plus $45,000 in cash. The female employee was charged with money laundering, the use of extortionist means, and forcing unlawful debt.
The evidence led to the revocation of the license of Macau casinos in Washington State. Other seven public cardrooms employees’ licenses were cancelled following similar cases.