Money laundering in casinos focus of World Game Protection Conference

Money laundering in casinos focus of World Game Protection Conference

  • Buck Wargo
January 20, 2022 12:06 AM
  • Other

International bestselling author and money-laundering expert Jeffrey Robinson will be among the headline speakers when the World Game Protection Conference returns to Las Vegas on February 15-17. Robinson will discuss the latest risks to the gaming industry.

The annual conference and exhibition, which started in 2006, examines current and emerging threats, vulnerabilities, and risks to casinos and explores practices to combat those threats. It will be held at the Tropicana Las Vegas and registrations are keeping pace with previous shows, said conference founder and owner Willy Allison.

Robinson, author of the book The Laundrymen, will talk about why money laundering matters in the casino industry. He’ll also touch on the effects of casinos going cashless, the impact of digital currencies, and how to detect casino employees who steal.

“Casinos are a traditional venue for money laundering,” Robinson said. “Right from the beginning, that’s where the mob got into casinos – not only for the skim, but to move dirty money through it and bring it out clean. There’s a long history of casinos all over the world laundering money.”

Robinson said it’s impossible to walk into a Las Vegas casino today with a canvas bag filled with $100 bills and move them through the property. The casinos are major corporations that not only don’t want the risk to their reputations, but are also aware that cash has to be declared. In addition, they have protocols, such as knowing their customers, surveillance cameras, and other methods to look for money laundering.

That doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

“There have been incidents in the past couple of years like the Bicycle (Hotel & Casino) in Los Angeles where they laundered $100 million over 10 months and no one has been charged.”

In November, the hotel paid $500,000 to settle the anti-money-laundering violations, alleging the casino didn’t file reports on the Chinese player who spent the money.

“The only people I know who have $100 million in cash are the Mexican cartels,” said Robinson, who dropped this tease for people to attend his speech. “Can you launder money in a Las Vegas casino? Yes. I can do it. Not all fraud is money laundering, but all money laundering has an element of fraud. The key is don’t look for money laundering. Look for fraud.”

Allison said the topic is timely, given what happened in Australia in 2021, when Crown Resorts was accused of enabling money laundering and misleading investigators.

International visitors were allowed to charge up to $500,000 on credit cards in exchange for casino chips. Hundreds of millions of dollars were potentially involved.

“In the last couple of years, money laundering has surfaced in a big way with these huge investigations, and that’s a warning for every casino operator,” Allison said. “Crown is on probation for two years while they change their structure. They have other properties under investigation too in Australia. It’s game-breaking stuff. I’m looking forward to what Robinson has to say. I’ve seen him on YouTube. He’s very outspoken.”

Allison said people will learn about all the latest threats to the casino industry and how people are dealing with them in the lineup of speakers.

The last conference was held in 2019 and Allison said it’s important to focus on the big picture and how people are circumventing procedures.

“After three years of not talking about threats or any other show not addressing threats, I think it’s a good time for people to hit the reset button and look at what’s going on in the world,” Allison said. “I’ve never had someone come and talk about money laundering, because casinos do a good job, or as well as they can, of reporting it. I have Jeffrey, because people are overworked with reporting on this stuff and sometimes they lose motivation and the big picture of why they’re doing what they’re doing. We need to understand the extent of money laundering in the world economy and what the casinos’ role is. We will look at why casinos are a candy store for money laundering and a soft target.”

This year’s conference has a new format, with CORE Training for surveillance development for casino employees comprising eight three-hour classes on Feb. 15. Those sessions deal with table-game protection, electronic-game protection, surveillance management, casino crime, data analytics, risk management, investigating game losses, and video surveillance.

You can register here.