I am doing some work with a casino, and they have introduced me to a term I had not heard before – much-beloved of the UK’s Gambling Commission, it turns out – which is “criminal spend”. It means “the use of criminal proceeds to fund gambling as a leisure activity”, which I think distinguishes it from using casinos as a laundering mechanism – i.e. with the aim of getting clean-looking funds back again at the end of the process.
I can see that from the perspective of the casino, there is a difference: is the criminal coming in just to enjoy himself, or is he using you as part of a money laundering scheme? But from the legal perspective, I think the distinction would be harder to draw. What matters with money laundering is the process, not the intent: if a criminal moves his money through a casino, whether he does it for fun or for laundering, and whether he wins or loses, he has in effect transferred the proceeds of crime, and so has the casino. But even as I write this, my mind is whirring: given that there is no objective test on the concealing offence, does the gambler’s intent come into it after all? If your criminal comes into the casino and does not look or act like a criminal, and places entirely normal wagers within standard limits, such that the casino staff have no reason at all to think that there is anything unusual about him, and it later turns out that he was having a high old time buying chips and playing with the proceeds of a bank heist – would the casino be liable to a charge of concealing, or transferring, or converting? If it looks like a duck, moves like a duck and quacks like a duck (the duck here being your standard casino client), surely no-one can be blamed for assuming that it is a duck? On the other hand, I think we would all agree that a criminal coming in and placing wagers in a way that is somehow unusual, and perhaps indicative of a laundering attempt, should be spotted and reported.
So what do we think? Is a criminal just spending his money liable to a charge of laundering? I would have said yes, as he is converting/transferring criminal property, if not actually concealing it. But what of the institution or firm that enables him? Is this perhaps where our old friend “adequate consideration” might come into things?