Washington State’s Macau Casino will pay $1.25 million to officials under a recent agreement with the Gambling Commission to cover inquiry costs. Authorities investigated alleged loansharking and money laundering at two company gaming venues.
The payments will partially reimburse the commission for costs incurred during the three-year investigation. It also will act as a deterrent to other casinos.
The commission and the Tukwila Police Department commenced an inquiry in 2016 after complaints were made about alleged loansharking and money laundering at Macau Casino’s Tukwila and Lakewood properties.
This penalty sends a message to those involved in the investigation, as well as others in the industry,” Washington State Gambling Commission Director Dave Trujillo said in a statement obtained by Casino.org. “We will take necessary steps to keep the criminal element out of licensed gambling facilities.”
Based on the investigation, authorities allege a publicly unnamed, 45-year-old female employee was bringing large bags containing $20 bills into the casinos. She gave the money to suspected co-conspirators to buy-in on games, the statement said.
High-Interest Loans Allegedly Made to Vulnerable Players
“They would play for a brief period of time before cashing out for $100 bills,” the commission’s statement adds. “The suspect also loaned cash and chips to casino patrons and charged exorbitant interest rates on the loans.”
The employee targeted players and employees who “clearly had gambling problems. Many of them were earning minimum wage and struggled just to pay the monthly or weekly interest (10 – 15%) owed on the loans,” the statement claimed.
The commission further alleged the suspect, her 27-year-old boyfriend, and other associates used “fear tactics and threatened violence in order to collect on debts.”
The high-interest loans were made to about 100 players and casino workers, KOMO, a Seattle-based radio station, reported in March.
The scheme also led to the alleged laundering of $1.5 million via the casino, KOMO added.
The female employee was charged with unlawful debt, money laundering, and use of extortionate means to collect extensions of credit. Her criminal case is pending, the statement said. The boyfriend was also charged.
KOMO also reported that authorities searched the female employee’s residence. They found a fancy car, jewels, big-screen TVs, fancy handbags, smartphones, tablets and gaming platforms.
State officials also located more than $45,000 in cash, the radio station said. The money was seized.
As a result of the evidence, venue owners were barred from taking part in gambling in Washington State in the future. The commission also revoked licenses from seven public card room employees. Revocations of licenses for four additional employees are still pending.
Theft, Alleged Card Switching Reported Elsewhere in Washington State
Washington State was also the scene of recent alleged crimes at other casinos. In September, a thief stole $13,000 from a Shoreline, Washington casino after he crawled to an unlocked safe.
Also, in September, Pasco’s Crazy Moose Casino lost over $38,000 to Frederick Nolan — a card player who allegedly improperly switched cards at least 38 times over several weeks — while playing high card flush.
The Crazy Moose incidents allegedly took place between Dec. 9, 2018 and Jan. 18, 2019. The total loss to the casino was approximately $38,335.
In September, the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office charged Nolan with first-degree theft and second-degree cheating.