A couple suspected of providing $300,000 in loans to people with gambling problems at a Tukwila casino and then threatening them in order to collect the debt have been arrested according to the Washington State Gambling Commission.
“We have a card room employee who took advantage of her position and preyed on people with gambling problems,” said commission director Dave Trujillo. “It is our duty to protect the public from people like her.”
The 45-year-old employee and her 27-year-old boyfriend are also charged with laundering about $1.5 million through the casino. The source of the money is under investigation. Authorities believe Macau Casino’s general manager was aware of the activities. His gambling license was suspended.
A statement released Friday by the commission said that the agency and Tukwila Police have received numerous complaints of loansharking and money laundering at Macau Casino over the past two years.
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An investigation revealed that the woman made about 100 loans totaling at least $300,000 to employees and patrons and charged exorbitant interest rates, the commission says.
The commission says the suspect often targeted people “who clearly had gambling problems” and many who were “ earning minimum wage and struggled just to pay the monthly or weekly interest (10–15 percent) owed on the loans.”
The woman and her boyfriend threatened violence in order to collect payments, the report states.
In a search of the suspect’s home, authorities seized a luxury vehicle, jewelry, big-screen TVs, high-end handbags, smartphones, tablets and gaming devices they suspected were purchased with illicit funds. They also recovered $45,000.
Authorities are still working to determine the source of the $1.5 million laundered through the casino. They say the amount is more than 10 times the suspect’s reported annual income.
The suspects were booked into jail and face charges of collection of unlawful debt, money laundering and use of extortionate means to collect extensions of credit.