The casino industry is a prime target for criminal syndicates seeking to launder their illegal profits gained via illicit financial activities like human trafficking and drug dealing. Although there are no federal laws that directly address the matter, the U.S. House of Congress has passed a number of pieces of legislation that have imparted stiff penalties on those who engage in money laundering and other financial crimes. However, these laws are only applicable to casinos, not online gambling or internet gaming websites. This may leave some legal and sensible people wondering, what does a “casino” do to become a suspect in a money laundering investigation? The answer might surprise you.
It’s fairly easy to obtain money laundering convictions on individuals carrying out cash transactions on the Internet or through online gambling. It is much more difficult to obtain convictions for licensed, state-regulated businesses like banks or financial institutions. That is because state laws often require reporting of certain types of transactions involving local transactions, as well as reports of international transactions. So when criminals make transfers in state funds, they are required by law to file reports with the appropriate state agencies. This means that money laundering can be quite complicated if it is discovered on the Internet or through the use of an online casino.
In order to investigate suspected money laundering transactions, law enforcement authorities commonly visit online casinos. They will typically use standard Internet search tools, known as “key words,” to trace IP addresses and trace all types of transactions. If the results come up with suspicious activity, the appropriate agency will then contact the casino’s management to determine whether or not the activity was real. If the casino is guilty of money laundering, the institution will be fined and could be shut down.
Law enforcement does not have unlimited resources. So it sometimes makes sense for these investigative agencies to obtain information about suspicious activities that they would not otherwise have been able to obtain without the help of a financial intelligence unit. For instance, if there is an ongoing investigation, law enforcement agents may want to trace certain transactions. But sometimes an investigation is “preliminary” in nature, meaning that the preliminary information is limited in scope. The financial intelligence unit can then provide such information to the field office. This way, the field office has a better chance of being able to solve the case before any other personnel from the agency get involved.
Today, many US law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have taken an interest in investigating suspected money laundering and terrorist financing cases through online gambling websites and casinos. A significant amount of this activity occurs through Casinos in the US. It has been found that certain types of fake identification cards often used by casino goers to gain access to real monetary accounts were used in this manner as well. While this type of activity is only one example of money laundering and other criminal acts, it is becoming more common for criminals to use computers to carry out their crimes.
In the recent past, the Justice Department had obtained guilty verdicts against several New York City Casinos and gaming websites for facilitating money laundering transactions. While the government was not able to bring charges on the individual defendants, they were able to fine the establishments financially, shut them down, and ban them from ever operating in the future. While the guilty verdicts were related to facilitating money laundering transactions, it is clear that these types of transactions are occurring on a regular basis at these locations and are damaging to American financial interests.