After admitting they failed to follow federal anti-money laundering laws properly, the Gardens Casino is hoping they will be able to continue to operate in Hawaiian Gardens, California. The casino is a large employer in the area and provides tax revenues as well but may be in jeopardy of losing their license, which comes at a particularly bad time as the venue just spent nearly $90 million to renovate the property.
General Counsel for the Gardens Casino, Keith Sharp, was interviewed last week and stated in the Press-Telegram that managers of the property are claiming responsibility for the failure and have already taken the appropriate steps to make sure that employees of the venue are properly following the anti-money laundering laws. According to Sharp, the casino has made ‘tremendous steps in improving’ programs.
It could take several months for the casino to be able to resolve the administrative and legal issues the venue faces. For now, a spokesman for the city government of Hawaiian Gardens stated that even though the casino is the provider of around 70% of the revenues for the city with the money used in the general fund, the city could survive if the Gardens Casino were to lose their licensing.
Reportedly, the city has a reserve fund that has around $15 million, which would be used to replace revenues from Hawaiian Gardens for one year. Officials of the city are well-aware of the problem that the casino is facing but are not at a panicking stage. According to Juan Garza, a spokesman for the city, the contingency was created if something of this nature was to happen.
The California Bureau of Gambling Control, a section of the State Department of Justice, accused the Gardens Casino of not following protocols back in October. Officials stated that the casino managers did not inform the authorities of the state of federal investigations that involved the casino, even as they applied for a renewal of their gambling license in August.
In July, a $2.8 million fine was set against the Gardens by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network for violations of money laundering in connection with the Bank Secrecy Act. Casino personnel reportedly were unable to track the identities of individuals who conducted business with cash at the venue. The casino admitted fault but says that the lapses are of a technical nature.
According to General Counsel Sharp, the casino has improved controls by increasing the compliance team to include seven members and hiring a consultant, from outside the company, to review as well as advise employees on record keeping and reporting requirements of the federal government. Monthly meetings are being held in order to stay on track that include the managers as well as the casino director.