Macau Casino fined $1.25m for breaches

By Noah Taylor Updated
Macau Casino fined $1.25m for breaches

A three-year joint investigation by the Washington State Gambling Commission and the Tukwila Police Department, Macau Casino has agreed to pay a US$1.25 million penalty for loansharking and money laundering operation at two of its casinos.

The payments will partially reimburse the commission for costs incurred during the three-year investigation and act as a deterrant to other casinos.

ICLG reports that the investigation concerned activities at Macau Casino’s Lakewood and Tukwila locations, which revealed that a female employee was working with co-conspirators to buy-in on games.

She would enter the casino with bags full of US$20 bills which were given to her accomplices, who then played in the casino for a “brief period” before cashing out for US$100 bills, according to the investigation.

Cash and chips were loaned to customers, with a charge of 10 to 15 per cent.

She targeted employees and patrons who were earning minimum wage and who “clearly had gambling problems.”

The high interest loans were made to about 100 players and casino workers.

The scheme led to the alleged laundering of $1.5 million via the casinos.

The female suspect has been charged with money laundering, unlawful debt and use of extortionate means to collect extensions of credit.

The two casino owners have been prohibited from participating in future gambling activities in Washington, while seven employees have had their licenses revoked, with four more revocations pending.

“This penalty sends a message to those involved in the investigation, as well as others in the industry,” Washington State Gambling Commission Director Dave Trujillo said.

“We will take necessary steps to keep the criminal element out of licensed gambling facilities.”

Washington State embroiled in numerous recent crime incidents

Washington State was also the scene of recent alleged crimes at other casinos.

In September this year, a thief stole $13,000 from a Shoreline, Washington casino after he crawled into an unlocked safe.

Also in September, Pasco’s Crazy Moose Casino lost more than $38,000 to Frederick Nolan – a card player who allegedly improperly switched cards at least 38 times over several weeks – while playing high card flush.

The Crazy Moose incidents allegedly took place between December 9, 2018 and January 18, 2019.

The total loss to the casino was approximately $38,335.

In September, the Prosecutor’s Office charged Nolan with first-degree theft and second-degree cheating.

Casinos to play Big Brother with new surveillance tech

Some of the world’s biggest casino operators in Macau are starting to deploy hidden cameras, facial recognition technology, digitally enabled poker chips and baccarat tables to track which of their millions of customers are likely to lose the most money.

The LA Times reported in June that the house now has artificial intelligence on its side, with the new technology using algorithms that process the way customers behave at the betting table to determine their appetite for risk.

In general, the higher the risk appetite, the more a gambler stands to lose and the more profit a casino tends to make, sometimes up to 10 times more.

The ability to identify customers with the potential to bet – and lose – big means that operators can offer special attention and targeted perks to keep them gambling.

In a system from a German firm, Dallmeier Electronic, facial recognition alerts floor managers once a high-value customer walks into the casino or sits down at a table, allowing them to immediately dispatch staff to the customer’s side.

“Those who can afford to lose, those who play even more when losing money, we can for sure offer them a free meal,” said Andrew Lo, executive director of Macau junket operator Suncity Group Holdings Ltd.

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