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IRS Asks Casino Employees for Tips

August 18, 2010

The Internal Revenue Service has been meeting with casino employees in Las Vegas and asking them to be on the lookout for signs of criminal activity among their customers.

Casinos are already required to file Suspicious Activity Reports with the IRS in case anybody walks in with a briefcase full of $20 bills and asks the teller’s cage to exchange it for a large check. The casinos have generally been complying with the anti-money laundering laws, with Nevada casinos filing a record number of 3,204 reports in 2008, up from 2,563 in 2007, according to a recent article in the Las Vegas Sun.

The casinos are required to report bets, deposits and buy-ins of $10,000 or more, or any suspicious-looking transactions of $5,000 or more. If the casinos don’t report the transactions, they could face fines equal to the amount of the transactions, and they could be fined $25,000 per day or $25,000 per report. Those reports have helped nab a number of criminals, including a San Francisco tax accountant who spent decades swindling his clients out of tens of millions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme that recently landed him a 20-year jail sentence.

But many casino employees on the floor are wary of reporting their customers directly to the IRS, and the Suspicious Activity Reports often can take months to process by the local IRS field office.

Now the IRS wants to encourage the casino employees themselves to step forward and has reportedly met with employees in some of the biggest Vegas casinos, including the Bellagio, the Aria, and MGM Resorts International’s casinos, according to the Sun.

Even though many casino employees are not exactly eager to tip off the IRS about their customers’ big bets, fearing reprisals, they often have a well-practice eye for what looks like legitimate activity and what looks fishy. The IRS is hoping those employees will put their chips in with the agency.

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