Watchdog: Mob Ties at Chinese Casinos Owned by US Firms?

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CasinoLeaks-Macau.com

The recently launched website provides painstaking detail about the tangled web of corporate and private ownership of government licenses to operate VIP gambling rooms inside massive casino complexes on the Chinese island. The concessions allow the license holders to run junkets for mainland Chinese gamblers to special high-roller rooms set up inside casinos -- even those owned by well-known American gaming titans such as MGM Grand, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands.

The junkets are responsible for organizing tours for Chinese gamblers, overseeing the gambling rooms – where the game of choice is almost always baccarat – and later collecting debts owed by the gamblers, who are often restricted in how much cash they can carry with them from mainland China to Macau.

The CasinoLeaks-Macau.com website presents evidence that it says suggests that some of these junkets have been infiltrated by organized crime figures. And the website alleges that some of those criminal figures could be operating inside American-owned casinos. In his letter to Nevada gaming officials, Fiedler specifically references something called Neptune group, which he alleges has a "deep and continuing relationship" with a notorious Chinese gang leader.

"We urge you to undertake a thorough investigation into the operation of the Neptune Group and its affiliated organizations to determine their suitability to do business with licensed casino operators in Nevada who also do significant business in Macau," Fiedler wrote.

A spokesman for the Hong Kong-based Neptune Group has not responded to an email seeking comment.

Mark A. Lipparelli, the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Absher, the spokesman for MGM Resorts International spokesman, said his company has been proactive in working to root out criminal elements from its Macau property. He said an independent compliance committee, made up of former high-level law enforcement officials, has investigated and vetted the vendors who operate VIP rooms at the company's 35-story, 600-room resort in Macau.

"This comprehensive review process found no evidence of any activity on the part of MGM's gaming room operators that is a cause for concern," Absher said. "If any such activities were found, MGM would immediately terminate our contract with the operator."

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A spokesman for Wynn Resorts, reached Wednesday, said he had not seen the union's claims but would review them.

The International Union of Operating Engineers is the 10th largest union in the AFL-CIO and has emerged as a watchdog for casino companies, including some that employ the union's members.

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