CT - Federal sleuths are taking a closer look at the mushrooming Indian casino industry, where the rivers of cash flowing through slot machines and across gaming tables could be a tempting target for international terrorists.
... tribal and commercial casinos around the country, are considered fertile ground for criminals and terrorists looking for cover when moving large amounts of cash.
"Money laundering is a problem, and it's a more serious problem to the nation in view of the fact that terrorist groups might be the beneficiaries of that exercise," said Philip N. Hogen, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, ...
In 1997, the FBI broke up a money-laundering operation at a casino on a California Indian reservation. More recently, a non-tribal casino in Nevada was fined $5 million for ignoring money-laundering reporting rules.
"Casinos are very vulnerable to money laundering, especially if you have the collaboration of an insider," said Charles Intriago, publisher of the ... "Money Laundering Alert" newsletter.
A patron might buy $5,000 in poker chips, gladly losing $800 or $1,000 at the gambling tables, then turn the chips in to obtain "clean" money - including the official receipts to show for it - to replace the original cash.
Despite the casino security efforts, the fast-growing Indian casino industry, with revenue of $14 billion last year, is considered a prime target for money launderers, experts say. In July alone, more than $1.7 billion was pumped into the slot machines at Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun.
Stanley Twardy, a Stamford lawyer and veteran of high-profile money-laundering cases when he served as U.S. attorney ..., said it is obvious why terrorists or other criminals look to casinos. "It's cash," he said.
Money laundering "provides the financial fuel that permits transnational criminal enterprises to conduct and expand their operations ... critical to the financing of global terrorism and the provision of funds for terrorist attacks."
Casinos aren't "concerned about the source of the money," Thompson said. "If we are not watching, it becomes a venue for laundering of terrorist and drug money."
Casino Cash: Terrorist Temptation?
9/11 Changed A Nation
September 10, 2003
By RICK GREEN, Courant Staff Writer