Location, Location, Location and 2022 in Review

ACAMS Southern Nevada Chapter is happy to call Las Vegas its home. The city is an internationally renowned major resort destination known primarily for its entertainment, fine dining, gambling, shopping and nightlife. Las Vegas is among the top destinations in the U.S. for business travel, holding over 22,000 conventions of different sizes every year. It also ranks as one of the world’s most visited tourist destinations, attracting over 40 million visitors each year. In addition, the city became a sports destination after welcoming major professional teams like the Vegas Golden Knights, the Las Vegas Raiders and the Aces.

Whatever may be the reason for visiting Las Vegas, there is a multitude of things to do, see or learn here. A trip to the area can change one’s life, whether they become a millionaire overnight or lose their entire life savings. Here is a fun fact—the largest slot jackpot in history worth $39.7 million was won 20 years ago at the Excalibur Casino in Las Vegas.1 A $100 bill can transform your life; just do not let that last $100 bill get swallowed by a Megabucks slot machine.

Las Vegas has quite a history and there are great features that make this city a treasure trove for any anti-money laundering (AML) compliance guru. Its past is best described in the halls of the Mob Museum, which is dedicated to the tumultuous relationship between organized crime and law enforcement (LE) in Las Vegas and the entire U.S. Visitors can watch a film about the history of organized crime, learn about mob violence, illegal gambling or travel back in time to the 1920s era of the Prohibition by visiting the museum’s underground speakeasy and distillery.

When mobsters started flocking to Las Vegas in the early 1930s, this brought criminal activity to the area, such as prostitution and other illegal businesses that started to develop here. With the availability of adult entertainment and due to soaring crime rates of the last century, Las Vegas earned its notorious nickname as “Sin City.” While this was in the past, and Nevada remains the only state in the U.S. where legal prostitution exists, prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas and the wider Clark County.

To add to its Sin City name, Nevada is a state that has licensed both medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries. Back in 2000, Nevada voted to legalize medicinal marijuana, and in 2016, adult-use cannabis was permitted. Today, anyone 21 years or older can legally purchase cannabis in Las Vegas. Based on the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the possession and use of cannabis are illegal under federal law in the U.S., thus giving plenty of topics for discussions for the AML community not just in Las Vegas but around the country.

With its importance as a convention and tourist destination, and due to its history, it only makes sense that every year, in the fall, ACAMS hosts its ACAMS Annual AML and Financial Crime Conference (this year its 22nd) in Las Vegas. Attendees gather to hear from regulators, LE and experts on trending topics, such as AML, anti-fraud or anti-corruption and compliance.

The mission of the ACAMS Southern Nevada Chapter is to support the goals of the ACAMS organization in providing outstanding learning and professional development opportunities, as well as support its members’ needs in the AML community. The chapter strives to fulfill its mission by providing high-quality meetings, workshops and networking events where members and nonmembers can build knowledge related to compliance, enhance their skills and share experiences.

A Look Back at the Chapter’s 2022 Activities

June 2022: Social Event

After a period of remote meetings, the chapter’s social event had a great turnout. The board members were introduced to the compliance community in Las Vegas, details were highlighted about the benefits of ACAMS membership and a description of future educational events was announced. The chapter had seen a more diversified audience this time, including folks from the gaming, auditing, consulting, crypto and banking industries, as well as representatives from the Las Vegas Drug Enforcement Administration office.

August 2022: Human Trafficking (HT) Event

The chapter hosted the first event of a two-part series focusing on the measures to mitigate the risks of HT in and around Las Vegas, which is one of the most critical issues in the area. Elynne Greene, who serves as the manager of Victim Services and Human Trafficking at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, highlighted the red flag indicators and described the challenges we are facing as a community, as well as the resources available to HT victims in Southern Nevada. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Gangs/Vice Bureau provided additional resources, statistics as well as warning signs that help recognize prostitution and HT.

October 2022: HT Webinar

To continue the discussion about HT, the webinar on HT typologies, red flags and investigative techniques became one of the most attended events organized by the chapter. Participants enjoyed the event and asked lots of questions during the webinar, where Larry Cameron from the Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative presented various methods for implementing anti-HT programs at financial institutions, crypto businesses and casinos. The speaker also went over compliance integration, data sets and typologies, as well as open-source intelligence and investigative techniques.

December 2022: Digital Payments Event

The last event of the year focused on the ever-growing digital payments industry as the world becomes increasingly digital. The event presenters included Senior Vice President of Business Development at Sightline Payments Tamara Tenenbaum, BetMGM’s Chief Compliance Officer Rhea Loney, and Managing Director at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming Payments Jerry Rau, who covered the current regulatory landscape, AML and fraud trends. The panel provided attendees with insights both in theory and in practice about important issues, red flags, trends to be aware of and ways to navigate the digital payments landscape.

2023 Looks Promising

We conducted a survey where 60% of responders voted for a future mix of in-person and virtual events; 30% wanted to learn more about the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, while 25% were interested in learning about customer onboarding and know your customer (KYC) and 15% about iGaming and sports betting topics. Based on the results, our target audience represents 40% coming from the gaming industry while 30% are AML specialists with a financial services background.

To begin on the right note, and since over 80% of our survey responders wanted another AML networking event, compliance experts met at our first social event of 2023 on March 2. Specialists in banking, gaming, financial technology and LE learned about upcoming 2023 events and chapter membership benefits, and created new connections with others in the field.

Another exciting upcoming training session is planned for April 26 between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Sierra Gold, 6515 S. Jones Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89118. Event sponsor and presenters from Thomson Reuters will discuss synthetic identity fraud and the KYC and know your business topic. Compliance professionals will learn about the current types of identity fraud; how fraudsters have adapted to pandemic changes; identify some of the challenges in detecting and stopping fraud; and how a proactive approach can mitigate those challenges. Lastly, participants will learn how identity verification tools are integrated into compliance standard workflows, improving risk management and giving folks better visibility into their customers.

As the chapter events provide a good landscape to meet experts in the AML community, our focus is to prevent money laundering and keep our communities safe. We will continue to work together toward educating our compliance followers, and we look forward to seeing everyone at our future educational events, with more dates being announced soon!2

ACAMS Southern Nevada Chapter Board, sonevada.acams@gmail.com

  1. “World Record Slot Jackpot Hits at Excalibur in Las Vegas,” IGT, March 21, 2003, https://ir.igt.com/news/news-details/2003/World-Record-Slot-Jackpot-Hits-at-Excalibur-in-Las-Vegas/default.aspx
  2. For the exact date, time and location of the upcoming events, join the ACAMS Southern Nevada Chapter’s LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/6715766/ or follow the chapter’s ACAMS page: https://www.acams.org/en/chapters/united-states-west/southern-nevada-chapter.

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