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Archive for January 6th, 2019

Judge Extends Ban on Release of MassGaming Report into Steve Wynn Sexual Harassment Allegations

Nevada judge extended Friday block on the much-anticipated release of report into Wynn Resorts’ suitability to run Massachusetts’ second commercial casino

A Nevada judge extended on Friday a temporary ban on the release of a report by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on how Wynn Resorts handled allegations about a “decades-long pattern” of sexual harrasment by its founder and former CEO Steve Wynn.

Mr. Wynn quit the casino and hospitality company in February, following the publication of an article by the Wall Street Journal detailing sexual misconduct and sexual harassment allegations leveled against him by former and current Wynn Resorts employees.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission launched a probe into those allegations, whether the company had any previous knowledge of those, and how it responded to them. The gaming regulator’s investigation also aimed to determine whether Wynn Resorts was still suitable to operate a $2.5-plus-billion integrated resort with a casino in the Greater Boston area. The property has entered final stages of development along the Mystic River in the city of Everett and is slated to open doors in mid-2019.

Back in November, Mr. Wynn filed a legal complaint to the Clark County District Court against MassGaming, the regulator’s chief investigator, Karen Wells, and Wynn Resorts, arguing that the gaming and hospitality company has communicated information that violated his attorney-client priviliges to the Massachusetts gambling regulator over the course of the latter’s probe.

MassGaming planned to release a report on its probe and to rule on Wynn Resorts’ suitability to operate the Encore Boston Harbor integrated resort in early December. However, Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez issued last month a temporary ban on the reveal of the results from the investigation, saying that she needed all involved parties to provide comments and additional evidence. The judge set a January 4 hearing on the matter.

Ban Gets Extension

After more than two hours of hearing arguments from the involved parties, Judge Gonzalez decided to stand firm on her decision to temporarily block the release of the MassGaming report. She said Friday that she was “limiting what the state of Massachusetts can rely upon, share or utilize” until she decides whether the documents obtained by the Massachusetts gaming regulator contained priviliged information.

The judge further advised attorneys for Mr. Wynn, Wynn Resorts, and the Gaming Commission to resolve their differences and keep her updated on their progress. The involved parties will have to provide a status update to Judge Gonzalez next Friday, January 11.

It is still unclear how Friday’s events will affect MassGaming’s suitability review. Commenting on the latest development in the Steve Wynn sexual harassment scandal, MassGaming spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said yesterday that the commission “will now closely review the judge’s ruling and assess its overall impact” on the probe. Ms. Driscoll went on to say that the regulatory body remains committed to advancing the process and “identifying the appropriate next steps to expedite the completion of Wynn’s suitability review.”

Wynn Resorts said in a Friday statement that they “firmly believe that the company did nothing wrong” in working with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission over the course of its investigation and that the information communicated did not violate Mr. Wynn’s attorney-client privilege.

Mr. Wynn has denied all allegations leveled against him. Following the publication of the WSJ story, the embattled casino mogul stepped down as Chairman and Chief Executive of the Las Vegas gaming and hospitality powerhouse he had found, and moved out from his luxury Wynn Las Vegas villa duplex which he had occupied for more than a decade.

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NETELLER Introduces Service Fee, Ramps Up Anti-Money Laundering Efforts

NETELLER to charge users failing to log in or make transactions and to close user accounts on suspected criminal activity from March 13, 2019

The new year has brought changes to the terms of use of NETELLER, the online payment service provider that has cemented itself as one of the most widely-preferred methods for online casino- and gambling-related transactions.

NETELLER has recently begun spreading the word about the upcoming implementation of certain changes to its terms of use via email notices to its customers. Starting March 13, 2019, NETELLER account holders could be charged an additional monthly fee depending on the frequency of use of the digital wallet. In addition, they can have their accounts suspended or restricted on suspected criminal activity.

The changes will apply to services provided to customers by NETELLER and its sister brand Skrill. The latter has itself begun informing its users about the upcoming changes. Both e-wallet solutions are owned by multi-national online payment company Paysafe Group.

Service Fees and Account Suspension

NETELLER’s email notice reads that while an account with the payment service provider is and will remain free for personal use, a monthly service fee of $5 (or equivalent) will apply if a user fails to log in or make a transaction at least once every 12 months. The new fee will be deducted monthly from a user’s available funds on their NETELLER account.

The other important change in NETELLER’s terms of use involves suspension and termination of accounts on suspected criminal activity. In its email notice, the e-wallet said that it may now suspend a customer’s prepaid card and/or account “or otherwise restrict its functionality” where it reasonably suspects that another NETELLER or Skrill account held by the same user “has been used for any fraudulent activity, money laundering, terrorism financing or other criminal activity.”

As mentioned earlier the newly introduced changes are set to take effect from March 13, 2019 and will apply automatically to all services provided by NETELLER to its users.

Digital Wallets – the Blind Spot in Anti-Money Laundering Efforts?

The phenomenal growth of payment providers and the proliferation of online gambling and most recently of crytpocurrencies are all having a huge impact on the way financial crimes are committed.

NETELLER’s announcement comes as pressure is growing on online payment service providers that their products can be used for money laundering and terrorism financing and that they are not doing enough to prevent criminal activities.

Years ago, the company found itself embroiled in a money laundering scandal. In 2007, two of NETELLER’s founding shareholders were charged in the United States with money laundering. Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre, both Canadian nationals, were found to have laundered billions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds and were each facing 20-year sentences.

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