The license for the Gardens Casino in California could be under jeopardy due to state gambling officials claiming that the casino is not eligible for a license as a result of it having admitted previously to violating federal anti-money laundering law.
Gardens Casino can continue to operate under a provisional license valid until Nov. 30, 2018 according to California Gambling Control Commission spokesman Eric Petosky. The license was issued after a review by the Commission in mid-November.
Officials from California Bureau of Gambling Control have however pointed out in a document dated Oct. 17 that the casino and its key executives should not be allowed to operate a casino as they have earlier failed to comply with federal laws.
Hawaiian Gardens Casino
In a statement, the officials said
In view of that nondisclosure and admitted violations of federal and state laws, respondents continued licensure undermines the public trust that licensed gambling does not endanger the public health, safety and welfare
A hearing is scheduled to be held to settle the issue although no specific dates have been given. Financial regulatory body Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) had levied a fine of $2.8 million on the casino in July 2016 to settle charges related to violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. The law contains provisions that aims to control money-laundering or other such illegal transactions in casinos.It requires casinos to document and self-report all relevant transactions, particularly those in cash. One of the key reporting rules requires casinos to report all cash transactions over $10,000.
According to FinCEN, Gardens Casino has been violating the provisions from September 2009 through to July 2016. The casino consistently failed to keep necessary records to identify customers who carried out large cash transactions or suspicious transactions. Around eighty percent of the suspicious activity reports filed by the casino between 2013 and 2014 involved at least one unknown party. The casino failed to capture customer details of customers despite them featuring in suspicious activity reports. FinCEN also pointed out that 347 cash transactions involving unidentified customers were for amounts between $9,000 and $10,000, falling just short of the mandatory reporting limit
The settlement agreement between FinCEN and Gardens Casino involved the casino admitting to the alleged violations. Apart from the fine, the settlement also required the casino to submit a risk assessment report and appoint an external auditor.
Gardens Casino is completing a $90 million renovation involving the development of a new building and facilities such as a gaming space for 5,000 to 7,000 customers, a private VIP gaming area and a large kitchen.