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  1. The US Treasury Department has recently hinted that it will require much more vigilant action by casinos to combat money laundering, leading gambling executives to fear that high rollers will stay away from the tables rather than provide more intimate details about their finances. Jennifer Shasky Calvery, Director of the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), recently told an audience at the Global Gaming Expo that casinos should abide by the same regulations put in place for other financial institutions. "Every financial institution, casinos included, should be concerned about its reputation," she said during her speech. "Integrity goes a long way." The new regulations would likely involve increased scrutiny of high-risk transactions, such as large international bank wires and massive cash deposits. Casinos are already required to watch for suspicious activity, such as players who make big deposits only to wager very little and cash out quickly. Gambling operators, however, believe that more intrusive vetting of high-stakes players will lead to a marked decline in business. Big-spending players, known as "whales," can wager so much money that their play can single-handedly swing a casino's balance sheet from the red to the black or vice-versa. Operators and VIP hosts argue that gamblers who have no criminal intentions might choose to use their resources to travel to other gambling destinations such as Macau instead of enduring increased invasions of privacy in Las Vegas. The American Gaming Association (AGA) has shown concern over the strict guidelines that the Treasury hopes to put in place as well. "This is a serious issue that could radically alter the way that casinos do business," said AGA President Geoff Freeman (pictured) in a statement. But Shasky is not moved by such arguments, telling her gaming audience, "When some casinos say that probing their customers about their activities outside of the casino will drive customers away, I sense that they feel that it is not their responsibility to protect their institutions, and our financial system as a whole, from being used by illicit actors," she said. "You ask your customers many questions about their preferences; you can and should get information about their sources of funds to meet your obligations to identify and report suspicious activity," she added. Since casinos are classified as financial institutions, US law already requires that they file a report on every transaction over $10,000. If these Currency Transaction Reports are not filed within 15 days, operators can face fines of up to $100,000. With new regulations, casinos would be tasked with prying even deeper into the source of their player's funds. Of course, these strict rules could have implications for mid- to high-stakes poker players who regularly buy into games for five-figures and up. The Treasury Department believes that stricter controls would prevent incidents like the case of Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese-Mexican businessman who was arrested for drug trafficking, but only after wagering $84 million at the Las Vegas Sands-owned Venetian (pictured). His host casino recently admitted that it had not sufficiently scrutinized Gon's financial situation and paid $47 million in fines to the Department of Justice. Other casinos are already reportedly in the sites of the Treasury as well. In a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Caesars Palace, the company divulged that it was being investigated for possible money laundering violations. Kevin Rosenberg, one of the lawyers who fought against Sands in the Gon case believes that changes in the industry are inevitable. "There is a sea change afoot with respect to casinos and US Government focus on them because there is just so much money that moves through casinos," he told CNBC. "The message is: 'You've got to get a lot better than you have been.'" Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  2. According to Reuters, Caesars Entertainment has agreed to pay $20 million "to settle US charges over anti-money laundering lapses and will enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department." --- Tournament Poker Edgeis the only poker training site dedicated exclusively to MTTs and features over 1,000 training videos, blogs, articles, podcasts and a dedicated strategy forum for members. Check Tournament Poker Edge out on Twitter. --- The fine has not been formally announced, but Reuters expected it to become public in the coming days. Caesars has been under investigation by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and, according to the news agency, "Among other lapses, the company's flagship property, Caesars Palace casino in Las Vegas, failed to properly police its sports book activity for wagers placed by illegal betting rings." Earlier this year, it was reported that the fine could range between $12 million and $20 million, so Caesars is reportedly at the very top of that estimate. According to PokerNews, "Over the past few years, Caesars has repeatedly [been]on FinCEN's radar, who've accused them of implementing weak anti-money laundering controls and failing to comply with US anti-money laundering law, the Bank Secrecy Act, that stems from an investigation that began back in 2013." Reuters added that although banks have historically been the targets of anti-money laundering efforts, casinos have come under increased scrutiny in recent years. As Reuters recapped, "In August 2013, Las Vegas Sands Corp. agreed to pay $47 million to settle with the Justice Department over anti-money laundering failures. Earlier this year, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey also agreed to pay FinCEN $10 million over anti-money laundering lapses." Caesars' Rio in Las Vegas is home to the annual World Series of Poker. The parent company is saddled with debt, but according to company officials earlier this year, the anti-money laundering settlement will not impact its financial results. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.

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