Caesars UK spanked for AML lapses; SkyCity ordered to hand over high roller records

caesars-anti-money-laundering-fineThe UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has fined casino operator Caesars Entertainment £845k for lapses in its anti-money laundering (AML) protocols.

In a notice posted to its website on Wednesday, the UKGC said it had identified “a number of serious weaknesses” at two casinos owned and operated by Caesars’ UK division: the Playboy Club London and London Clubs LSQ.

Specifically, Caesars UK failed to: appropriately assess the risks of dealing with certain customers; conduct sufficiently rigorous due diligence; understand the source(s) of a customer’s wealth and keep adequate records detailing the company’s decision making process.

Caesars UK was also found to be overly reliant on checks made by Caesars’ international divisions, regardless of whether those jurisdictions’ AML requirements matched those demanded by the UKGC.

Caesars freely copped to its shortcomings and proposed a voluntary settlement, which the UKGC accepted. Caesars UK agreed to allow an independent external provider to conduct a review of the company’s AML policies and processes and implement an action plan to address weaknesses uncovered by this review.

Meanwhile, a court has ordered Australian casino operator SkyCity Entertainment to hand over gambling records on one of their high rollers. In September, Rosalie Lalara, a former official at the Goorte Eylandt Aboriginal Trust, appeared in Darwin Supreme Court to plead guilty to embezzling $500k from her employer in order to gamble at SkyCity’s Darwin casino.

Lalara reportedly blew over $1m of the Trust’s money playing electronic gaming machines at SkyCity between 2009 and 2012, a spree that earned her ‘platinum’ status at the casino. Last year, the court ordered SkyCity to produce their records on Lalara’s gambling activities so that the Trust could determine whether to launch a suit to reclaim the stolen funds.

SkyCity fought the court order but multiple courts rejected SkyCity’s claim that they would suffer “substantial injustice” by releasing the info. The courts also took issue with the fact that SkyCity initially denied it could produce any records on Lalara’s wins and losses, only to backtrack after a former SkyCity general manager confirmed that the casino did keep such records.

The courts criticized SkyCity for appearing not to care that “the moneys Ms. Lalara gambled were not her own, and/or that some appropriate enquiries should be made.” The implication is that SkyCity was well aware that it had failed to conduct due diligence and thus feared that releasing the records would expose it to further legal liability.