But some of the problems associated with Chinese gambling halls may be migrating to the Strip as well.
In March, a man the police described as an enforcer for the Taiwan-based triad United Bamboo began serving a life term for stabbing a man to death in a karaoke bar near the Strip. Prosecutors said he'd been sent to collect a $10,000 gambling debt.
Last year, the U.S. Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network warned casinos to monitor junket operators and report suspicious activity. The warning followed media reports that Sands allowed a man named as a triad member in a congressional report to move a $100,000 gambling credit from Las Vegas to one of its Macau casinos.
Unlike some other states, Nevada allows junket operators to work in casinos without the full suitability checks required for key employees. Some Hong Kong operators licensed in Nevada have been found unsuitable by other jurisdictions, including Singapore."The reason why we don't do a full giant investigation on them is that they have no control over the casino operations; they are basically travel agents and hosts," said A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. If another jurisdiction finds fault with a junket operator licensed in Nevada, state regulators will simply ask the operator to submit to a suitability workup, which is tantamount to telling the operator to get out, Burnett said. Still, regulators are not blind to the link between junkets and triads. At a hearing in June, Burnett said it was "common knowledge that the operation of VIP rooms in Macau casinos had long been dominated by Asian organized crime." In the 1980s, state regulations, along with an FBI crackdown, helped push out the mob bosses who had taken refuge in the gambling world and usher in the industry's modern corporate era. Today, states can impose fines or revoke licenses if any U.S. companies are found to have acted improperly in Macau. But regulators have rarely taken such action, preferring to wait until federal investigations are complete. Conventional wisdom is that no U.S. companies will lose their licenses over the allegations, even if proven true. At worst, they could get fined, said Michael Paladino, of the credit rating agency Fitch. "They can handle that," he said, noting that the largest FCPA fine to date -- imposed on an engineering firm for bribery -- amounted to about $1 billion. That's less than one month's revenue for Sands.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV