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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Politicians, judges, babus to be monitored in Goa casinos

IANS  Panaji, January 11, 2013
First Published: 13:49 IST(11/1/2013) | Last Updated: 13:50 IST(11/1/2013)

Politicians, judges, military officers as well as bureaucrats with a gambling fetish need to beware now.

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A new amendment to the money laundering act in Goa now mandates all casinos in the state to keep tabs on lawmakers, judicial officers as well as civilian and military officials in order to ensure that they do not spend money not in proportionate to their salaries.

The change comes even as several top politicians in Goa and bureaucrats have been repeatedly seen in the state's casinos spending fortunes, and at times even indulging in brawls.

These have been caught on close circuit television cameras.

"Casinos shall gather sufficient information on any customer of this category intending to establish a relationship and check all the information available of the customer in the public domain," the newly modified guidelines for the casinos issued by the Goa government say.

"Casinos shall verify the identity of the customer and seek information about the sources of funds before accepting the Politically Exposed Person (PEP) as a customer," the notified rule says.

The casino operators have also been directed to introduce a Know Your Customer protocol, which would enable the management to know briefly about the legitimate background of the gambler.

Goa has half a dozen offshore casinos and nearly a dozen onshore casinos operating in the state, visited by hundreds of thousands of locals as well as tourists annually.

In the last few years, there has been a call for regulating the casino industry, but no concrete steps had been taken.

The modified guidelines are aimed at squelching aspects like money laundering and terror financing through casinos.

They are also perhaps the first concrete steps towards regulating this increasingly powerful casino lobby.

The new guidelines also mandates the casino operator to create profiles of high spending customers who often splurge crores during each sitting at a roulette or a private black jack table.

Black money, the notification says, often finds its way to casinos through these high spenders.

"Customers may become high spenders because of their cumulative spending over a period of time. Similarly, casual customers who gamble a relatively large amount of money on a limited number of occasions, perhaps even during a single visit, could equally be considered as high spenders," the guidelines say.

The guidelines direct casino operators to keep an eye on junket operators who shepherd high spending gamblers to casinos and leverage on the casino managements to extend illegal liberties to these gambler groups.

In order to insulate casinos from money laundering and terror financing, the new guidelines make it mandatory for casino operators to regularly send reports of cumulative cash trabsactions, suspicious transactions as well as intimations of every cash transaction above Rs.1 million, whether in Indian or foreign currency.


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