Poker in the United States has meant players have gone accustomed to using cash to make bets at poker tables. This is all set to change as MGM Resorts recently announced that they would no longer allow cash bets to happen at poker tables. The casino giant confirmed that this new policy will be implemented in all their casinos from the 1st of April and only chips will be permitted at the tables.
MGM Resorts did not disclose why they have decided to stop cash bets and implement a new policy across all their locations.
Some of the biggest poker room in Las Vegas such as the MGM Grand Las Vegas, the Excalibur, the ARIA and the Bellagio will no longer offer cash bets. This will also be applicable to the MGM Grand Detroit and the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Financial analysts believe that one of the main reasons why MGM resorts decided to change its policy was to tighten its financial security policies as the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) was taking an active interest in the money laundering policies of casinos.
In June 2014, FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery addressed the issue of money laundering at casinos and stated that it was up to the casinos to implement stricter financial policies to ensure that their premises are not used for money laundering purposes.
Federal authorities charged Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp in 2013 for having poor financial policies as the casino was used by Chinese-Mexican businessman Zhenli Ye Gon for money laundering activities. Gon had strong connections with international drug trafficking and Las Vegas Sands Corp had to pay federal authorities $47.4 million in fines.
FinCEN is currently working on a number of policies that will further scrutinize large financial transactions at casinos. One such policy could force casinos to reveal the financial sources of their VIP and high stake gambling clientele. If such a policy does get implemented it will certainly reduce the risks of money laundering but will clearly affect the revenue of all U.S. based casinos.
The Chinese government rolled out an anti-corruption policy in 2014 targeting VIP and high stake gamblers in Macau. The campaign proved to be extremely successful in stopping money laundering as it scared away VIP gamblers. However, the casinos were not very happy as they lost a significant percentage of their clientele and revenue.
Las Vegas Sands Corp and Wynn Resorts have yet to confirm if they plan to adopt a similar policy like MGM resorts.