December 8, 2016
By Nicole Raz
Las Vegas casinos are kicking out and banning more people from their floors than possibly ever before.
“Definitely in the last four years we’ve seen what I would consider a bit of an uptick in individuals that we put on the Excluded Persons List (commonly referred to as the Black Book),” Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said. “We’ve probably included 25 percent more individuals on the Excluded Person List in the last four years than in the last 12.”
Las Vegas isn’t alone. A report on the U.S. gaming industry found the industry as a whole is banning more individual bad actors from casino floors.
The report released Dec. 1 by the Financial Action Task Force, the international body that evaluates countries’ efforts to prevent money laundering, found an uptick in “terminated patron relationships” from its last evaluation in 2006.
The American Gaming Association reports the number of patron relationships terminated in 2014 because of money laundering concerns was 23 times higher than in 2011.
“We want to keep any form of illegal activity out of the casinos,” said Elizabeth Cronan, senior director of gaming policy at the association. “We’re regulated, we’re an industry based on integrity.”
Cronan said casinos have stepped up efforts in assisting law enforcement in recent years, as acknowledged by the task force’s new report.
The report found “the gaming industry has taken significant steps to comply with AML (anti-money laundering)/CFT (combating the financing of terrorism) requirements … casinos have not only increased their compliance spending but have also put in place mitigating measures above the requirements.”
Cronan said casinos serve as “the first line of defense” for law enforcement. “We really do play a critical role in getting sensitive information directly to the government that they may not otherwise be privy to,” she said.
The report found “robust” casino monitoring of activity, illustrated by increased Suspicious Activity Reports, which note people who casino officials suspect of money laundering, as well as other reports that note customers who make a transaction of $10,000 or more in a single day.
Suspicious Activity Report filings increased nearly 69 percent at casinos between 2013 and 2014, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
“The industry is continuing to strengthen relationships with law enforcement as well,” Cronan said.
“Throughout the country, as gaming has entered into nearly every jurisdiction, save a couple, all of those jurisdictions have become hyper-aware of gaming-related crimes,” he said. “I would say virtually 100 percent of every licensed gaming corporation in the U.S. has a good surveillance program, and the states impose those requirements on them.”
Between a sheer increase in more casinos, surveillance and quickly adapting law enforcement, more people are getting caught, he said.
The praise from the Financial Action Task Force is a welcome change for the industry after the body was critical of casino gaming in recent years.
In 2013 at Global Gaming Expo, the largest annual gathering of gaming industry professionals, then-FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery said, “I fear there may be a culture within some pockets of the industry of reluctant compliance with the bare minimum, if not less. I hope that together we can make a cultural change.”
In 2006 the Financial Action Task Force recommended the industry take a number of steps to increase its customer identification procedures, reporting of suspicious transactions while further regulating, supervising and monitoring anti-money laundering operations.