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AML laws likely to force Macau VIP room changes, panel hears

Macau’s casino operators are likely to have to take control of the cages in their VIP rooms as global regulators become more aggressive in enforcing anti-money laundering and know your client rules, a leading former regulator said.

Speaking on a panel at the Macau Gaming Show, Frederick Gushin, head of the Spectrum Group said such a move would be a logical next step given the general direction of recent regulatory changes.

He also warned that many of the practices currently followed by the VIP agents will not be tolerated in the future, especially when it comes to protecting the identity of high-roller clients.

“Gambling anonymously is for yesterday and any casino that allows it to happen should be made accountable,” said Gushin, who also worked for 13 years for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

“Most people do not realize that the cages in the VIP rooms are under the control of the VIP room operators and the transparency is not that same as would be expected” for those cages directly under the casino’s control. 

“Ultimately the VIP room cages will be controlled by the casinos. That would be significant step forward,” he said.

The panel session, which focused on anti-money laundering, heard how the U.S. Department of Justice has become much more aggressive in its tactics for clamping down on money laundering activities. Its reach extends to any company with operations in the U.S., even if crimes are committed outside of U.S. borders. 

Michael Bresnick, Former Senior Department of Justice attorney and Executive Director of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, pointed to the example of the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino, which was recently fined $75 million for “willful and egregious” violations of anti-money-laundering rules.

The DOJ employed search warrants and undercover agents among its tactics to pursue the case.

He said the size of the fine had made the corporate world sit up and take notice, adding that going forward he expected to see more of this “aggressive” approach. 


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