Haiwaiian Gardens Casino is the second-largest cardroom in California, so you would expect a gaming venue of that size to ensure that it operates above board at all times. However, the casino has recently come under fire for misleading gambling regulators and not doing enough to prevent money laundering – resulting in a huge $6 million fine.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the federal agency that keeps an eye out for money laundering, found that Hawaiian Gardens Casino had not been keeping proper records and failed to declare many of the biggest cash transactions that were made. The venue also neglected to identify who was making such payments.
One example of the shady behaviour that the casino engaged in involves a patron who is only known by the name of “Michelle”. She had been the subject of 15 FinCEN reports for suspicious cash transactions, but she never provided casino staff with her identification. Hawaiian Gardens allowed her to continue to gamble in spite of the suspect behaviour that she and her associates exhibited.
Another area where the casino failed to comply to the federal financial laws was its constant failure to file currency reports whenever players cashed out $10,000 or more. One incident in particular saw a patron attempt to cash out over $14,000, but they refused to fill out an IRS identification form. The player ripped up the document, and asked that another employee cash him out – who complied.
In 2016, it was time for Hawaiian Gardens to renew its gaming license, and the venue’s operators mislead the state’s gaming authorities by stating that they had always engaged in “honest and frank” activities. This obviously isn’t true, as the operators failed to mention that FinCEN had fined the casino $2.8 million for violating the Bank Secrecy Act.
Now that everything has come to light, the Hawaiian Gardens casino aims to ensure that no such incidents occur ever again. The operator will be working hard to correct its past mistakes.
“Gardens Casino has strong procedures in place and several years ago we put in place the necessary corrective measures to ensure these issues do not re-occur,”– a statement from the company’s general counsel, Keith Sharp.
Time will only tell if the company stays true to its word. This is certainly one venue that regulators will be keeping an eye on, so we’ll be able to provide you with further updates as Hawaiian Gardens cleans up its act.