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$5.3M Fine for California's Artichoke Joe's Casino

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The California Department of Justice made an announcement on March 25, 2021, that Artichoke Joe’s Casino, located in San Bruno, will have to pay a $5.3 million penalty. The casino, which operates 51 card tables and is the eighth largest in the state for gross gambling yield, was discovered to have violated the Bank Secrecy Act(BSA) and to have misled gambling regulators.

The BSA is in place as a federal law meant to combat money laundering, and after Artichoke Joe’s failed to accurately report an investigation by the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in a timely fashion, the penalty was issued. The settlement agreed upon is the largest penalty issued in the history of California’s gambling regulation, which includes tribal casinos and commercial cardrooms but not online poker sites.

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Full Disclosure Necessary Under Gambling Act


One of the conditions of possessing a casino gambling license in the state of California is that establishments make full and true disclosure of any pending federal investigations to gambling regulators in good time. This is all laid out as part of the California Gambling Control Act of 1998.

The California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Gambling Control came to the conclusion that Artichoke Joe’s Casino violated the official laws laid out by the Act when it failed to accurately report, reveal or disclose in a timely way that FinCEN was investigating it. That investigation was taking place with regard to the Bank Secrecy Act, and in the same vein, no report was disclosed of the casino and FinCEN being in negotiations which could result in the establishment admitting violations of the BSA.

Later on, the casino admitted to violations of that Act as part of the settlement it reached with FinCEN. The Gambling Control Bureau then amended its own allegations to include the admission of guilt by Artichoke Joe’s.

With the failure to disclose and the admission of guilt relating to the violation of the BSA, the casino’s duties and responsibilities under the Gambling Control Act were breached. As a result of that, the casino and its owners were ordered to pay a penalty charge of $5.3 million. At the same time, it is required to reimburse the Bureau for costs associated to this case as well as go through a 36-month compliance period. Upon meeting the terms of this settlement, Artichoke Joe’s will be allowed to retain its state gambling license. If it does not complete all terms, the Bureau has the right to relieve it of the license instead.

Artichoke Joe'sArtichoke Joe's in San Bruno

Penalties Are Handed Out Alongside FinCEN Fine

The penalties handed out in the settlement come in addition to the penalty imposed by FinCEN, which stands at $5 million. When the casino admitted to its violation of the BSA’s program and reporting requirements, this included following:

  • Failing to implement and maintain an effective money-laundering operation
  • Failing to report certain suspicious activity

At the same time, Artichoke Joe’s Casino admitted that the violations had spanned an eight-year period. That timeframe ran from October 19, 2009 up to November 15, 2017.

Not the First California Casino to Be at the Center of Scandal


Artichoke Joe’s may be one of the latest California casinos to be on the bad side of the law, but it definitely isn’t the first. In fact, the Bank Secrecy Act has been at the helm of many of these violations, with the Hawaiian Gardens being ordered to pay a $3.15 million fine in 2019 for allegedly misleading gambling regulators and in the same way as Artichoke Joe’s. Those charges followed on from an initial $2.8 million fine that it received for money laundering violations in 2016.

In December of that same year, the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) enforced a search warrant at a business known as Nisey’s Thrift Store, which was reported as operating an illegal gambling den. During the raid, 64 people were detained by the police force with 11 of them being arrested. Several of the people arrested at the gambling den had outstanding warrants as well.

And potentially everyone is aware of the Mike Postle cheating scandal that occurred within the Stones Gambling Hall. While the majority of that case was dismissed by Judge William B. Shubb in the end, it raised a lot of questions about the Stones setup. Veronica “Angry_Polak” Brill initiated the claims against Mike Postle, accusing him of cheating, and an investigation into the casino establishment had to take place as a result.

Furthermore, California’s Department of Justice announced the arraignment and charges against Eric Nguyen and Khan “Tina” Tran last year. These charges were raised in connection with an alleged gambling scheme that the two had cooked up, and it resulted in the theft of around $4 million from the 580 Casino based in Livermore.

If You’re Going to Play, Do It Legally

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There are multiple online casinos and poker rooms that California residents can access, so there's no reason to frequent underground live gambling parlors. It's completely legal for individuals to play on these offshore sites although some are reliable and honest while others are disreputable and shady.

In order to help you decide which is which, we have put together a guide toward the best real money California online poker sites. Joining one of them will see you registered at a recommended and legitimate platform.

It's not just The Golden State that's so comfortably situated with respect to internet poker options. The majority of other states also have access to the same roster of dependable poker providers that California does. To learn more about them, consult this page focused on USA offshore poker rooms.