Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Macau Casinos Continue to Suffer Baccarat Cheat Scams and Money Laundering Crime

Source: New Yorker

The United States government has come to believe that the cash changing hands on the tables in Macau is only a small part of the picture. “The growth of gambling in Macau, fuelled by money from mainland Chinese gamblers and the growth of U.S.-owned casinos, has been accompanied by widespread corruption, organized crime, and money laundering,” according to the 2011 annual report by the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China. The place has emerged as the “Macau Laundry Service,” as U.S. diplomats put it in an internal cable in 2009. Juan Zarate was a senior counterterrorism official in the Bush Administration who worked on sanctioning a private bank in Macau that allegedly facilitated, among other things, the financing of nuclear proliferation by North Korea. “Anyone who knows anything about anti-money laundering understands both the inherent and the real risks in Macau,” Zarate said. “You have an admixture of commercial-financial activity, a way station for people and goods, a casino sector, all in a potentially volatile regional environment.” David Asher, who was a State Department senior adviser for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the Bush Administration, calls Macau “a cesspool” of financial crimes. “It’s gone from being out of a James Bond movie to being out of ‘The Bourne Identity,’ ” he said.

Macau garners its share of creative casino cheats; last summer, local police arrested members of a gang accused of embedding miniature cameras into card-shuffling machines. Too much success can be cause for distrust. A casino’s advantage in baccarat—about 1.15 per cent—ordains that the chances of winning all but evaporate for a gambler after thirty thousand hands. A dedicated player can draw a thousand hands in a weekend and come out ahead, but after seven months almost nobody should go home a winner.

My take: Combine the Chinese Triads, Reckless Chinese Gamblers and Giant Las Vegas-Style Casinos and the formula you get out of it is money laundering+casino. Let the cheating scams and money laundering go on!