As the casino gaming industry in California has grown, so has the possibility of infiltration by organized crime.
For that reason, one of Nevada’s leading investigation and security services companies, Global Intelligence Network (GIN), was recently asked to train a group of gaming agents from the California Department of Justice about the in’s and out’s of identifying and dealing with organized crime in the gaming industry.
GIN’s Peter Maheu delivered the seminar, which he said was well received by the California gaming agents.
"Right now, they’re way behind the curve when it comes to organized crime in the industry," Maheu told GamingToday. "They really don’t have any gaming experience but they’re receptive to amassing as much knowledge as they can."
That knowledge is far-reaching, as is the type of criminal organizations that Maheu teaches them about.
"International organized crime is a serious problem and it extends across the globe," Maheu said. "For instance, there’s a Russian crime family whose operations extend into 44 countries. And it’s their number one priority to send money back to Russia, which will be used for illicit purposes."
Maheu said it’s important that the gaming industry keep free of organized crime, even in the form of seemingly harmless vendors.
"One of our tasks is to show the agents how some vendors can infiltrate operations," he said. "Once they get a foothold, they tend to drive away the competition through threats, intimidation or coercion.’
At that point, the vendor has an "unholy alliance" with the gaming company. "That’s something the gaming industry can’t have," he said. "It’s important that the casinos maintain the integrity of the industry, no matter where it is located."
Identifying which individuals or organizations are crime-related isn’t always easy, Maheu added.
"Often times the organization is very-well hidden, with various layers and structures," he said. "We show the agents the tell-tale signs and how they can deal with them."
Because the California gaming industry is in its infancy, it is more prone to falling victim to organized crime.
"I wouldn’t say California casinos are ”˜ripe’ for organized crime, but they haven’t seen many of these things before, and therefore may not be able to deal with it."
Another situation that is unique to California is the regulatory system itself. Unlike Nevada, where regulators have complete autonomy to regulate casinos, California’s gaming regulators work "subject to" the autonomy of the tribes themselves. That can often create an unusual investigative situation.
"In Nevada, if a regulator wants to look at a machine or examine some books, he simply asks," Maheu said. "But in California, the gaming agent must take the casino operator aside and explain, if not convince, that he needs to examine a machine or account."
Maheu said the training seminar went so well that he has been invited back to California to teach another one on dealing with international vendors and how to identify the true ownership of organizations.
Global Intelligence Network specializes in surveillance, pre-employment screening, risk management, liability cases, employee integrity and other business security issues.
Also on staff is Peter Maheu’s father, Robert Maheu, who was once Howard Hughes’ right-hand man in Nevada.