Casino News Roundup: MGM, Saipan, Macau ATMs

It's a bizarre sight to see that land-based casinos are now welcoming online gaming with open arms. Years ago, they did everything in their power to stop them. That's where we start our weekly look at the casino news as one of the biggest land-based brands is joining the online world.

MGM Launches Online Casino

MGM Resorts International has announced that they'll be starting an online casino and poker platform in the state of New Jersey. MGM owns the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, which used to be a mecca of gambling in the United States. However, in recent years a number of casinos have closed down. Online gaming is thriving in New Jersey, though, and has helped save the land-based industry - if you can believe that. In March, the state recorded its highest month yet for online gaming, reporting more than $21.7 million in revenue. That is an increase of over 40% from March 2016.

MGM's new platform will be run under the Borgata umbrella. It won't be the first online casino as Caesars Interactive, the Golden Nugget, Resorts Casino Hotel and the Tropicana Casino and Resort have also brought online gaming on board.

United States Investigating Saipan Casino

Saipan, an island in the Western Pacific and a commonwealth of the United States, is under investigation by the United States. The island, which is close to China and the Philippines, has a casino project that has been flagged and the authorities want to take a closer look.

There is a situation brewing there over the use of undocumented workers, who were brought there to build a casino by Imperial Pacific, whose chairman is Mark A. Brown. The labor workers were under the impression they'd be going to the United States and would eventually get a green card. Instead, they ended up working in Saipan under Chinese construction firms and the green card is not part of the discussion anymore. Brown was the former President and CEO of Trump Entertainment, and as we all know any shady foreign ties related to Trump are being placed under a magnifying glass these days.

While Brown has tried to distance himself from the current President of the United States, he would be hard-pressed to say he didn't learn anything from Trump while working under him in terms of building casinos. The irony about this is how tough Trump said he would be on the case of illegal immigrants and there have already been charges laid against two other contractors for hiring illegal immigrants in Saipan. Workers feel like they were tricked to go there. Even though this isn't directly linked to Trump, the ties won't help his public relations.

ATMs To Be Monitored Inside Macau Casinos

The gambling revenues in Macau have rebounded and so has the potential for money laundering. You might recall that the previous government cracked down on Macau because of concerns of corruption and money laundering. Now that Macau is healthy again, those laundering concerns are back and the government has responded.

Officials are planning to watch withdrawals made at ATMs to have a paper trail. Macau is getting a visit from Zhang Dejiang, who is the head of the Chinese parliament, and these measures are going to be specifically for ATMs that are near casinos. Essentially, China is worried that money is being taken off the mainland and gambled away in Macau. Macau itself is aiming to strengthen its anti-money laundering laws, which also had a big hand in the industry's decline. We'll have to keep an eye on if this regulation is just a one-off or whether it's the start of a new wave of crackdowns.