Casino Boom Spotlights Adelson's Chinese Links

U.S. Regulators Ill-Equipped To Keep Track of Macau Crooks

Under the Table: Investigators are ill-equipped to deal with problems posed by Chinese underworld involvement in Macau casinos like those owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
getty images
Under the Table: Investigators are ill-equipped to deal with problems posed by Chinese underworld involvement in Macau casinos like those owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

By Reuters

Published October 24, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

For Nevada gaming companies grappling with a weak economy and a splintering market at home, the Asian casino boom has been a godsend. But it has left the Nevada Gaming Control Board facing difficult questions about how to confront the influence of Asian organized crime, both overseas and inside the state.

With no full-time staff in Asia and a mission that includes nurturing an industry increasingly dependent on China-controlled Macau, the granddaddy of U.S. gambling regulators may ultimately prove powerless to police a global business of which Las Vegas is no longer the capital, industry veterans said.

Though the Control Board can levy fines, ban employees and even revoke corporate licenses to operate gambling facilities in Las Vegas for misdeeds abroad, it has done little in the face of mounting evidence that Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International are relying on problematic business partners in Macau - and importing some of the region’s crime issues to the United States.

Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson controls Las Vegas Sands. He has made headlines by spending tens of millions of dollars on Republican efforts to unseat President Barack Obama.

At the heart of both matters are the so-called junket operators, who recruit, transport and offer credit to high rollers, mostly from China. Some control rooms for the VIPs inside the Macau casinos, and many have links to the Chinese criminal gangs known as triads, according to U.S. diplomats, intelligence officials and court testimony.

Nevada has allowed three people with ties to one Hong Kong junket company - which Hong Kong Stock Exchange documents show was partly financed by an alleged triad leader - to bring gamblers to Las Vegas casinos on commission. Those people, named in individual Nevada records, include the chairman of the company, Neptune Group Ltd.

Though such Asian recruiters are increasingly important to the casinos looking to lure Chinese big spenders, Nevada investigators privately concede that they are having a hard time establishing which of them have criminal connections. The casinos say all their business partners are approved by Macau or Nevada and that they eschew deals with proven criminals.

In one sign of mounting concern at home, Nevada Gaming Control Board member A.G. Burnett told Reuters that the panel is “exploring reinventing the whole junket representative process” because of concerns about its lack of transparency.

The expansion of the junkets prompted the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to issue guidance in August asking the casinos to record the identities of everyone gambling from a junket operator’s account.

Separately, U.S. prosecutors are investigating whether Sands has broken money-laundering or bribery laws. Wynn also has disclosed that it is the subject of an informal Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into possible Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.