Casinos and Gaming

Caesars fined over high-roller money laundering controls

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The U.S. government fined casino company Caesars Entertainment Operating on Tuesday over lax anti-money laundering rules in its VIP gaming rooms.

Caesars Palace, owned by Caesars Entertainment's bankrupt division, Caesars Entertainment Operating, agreed to pay an $8 million civil penalty for repeated violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, according to the U.S. Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN.

FinCEN said Caesars "allowed a blind spot to exist in its compliance program" for private gaming salons, which are reserved for its wealthiest clients.

Caesars attracted high-rollers, some of which gambled millions of dollars in a day, from Asia and other parts of the world and openly allowed them to gamble anonymously despite the high risk of laundering activity, FinCEN said.

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"Caesars knew its customers well enough to entice them to cross the world to gamble and to cater to their every need," FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery said in a statement. "But, when it came to watching out for illicit activity, it allowed a blind spot in its compliance program."

Caesars has agreed to conduct external audits and to allow independent testing of its anti-money laundering compliance program. It will also engage in a "look-back" for suspicious activity, the statement said.

Caesars Palace said it has made substantial improvements to its anti-money laundering program since the time of the examination. "The entire Caesars organization is committed to full compliance with the requirements applicable to casinos and to taking effective risk-based measures to prevent and detect money laundering," a Caesars spokesperson told CNBC in statement.

Caesars Entertainment's largest division, Caesars Entertainment Operating Corp., filed for bankruptcy protection this year. The unit operates brands including Caesars Palace, Harrah's and Horseshoe.

Tuesday's settlement must be approved by the bankruptcy court.