Big news coming out of the World Series of Poker last week as the WSOP tweeted out that non-US players will need to bring proof of address with them in addition to their Passport.
Attn non-US WSOP players: You'll want a 2nd form of ID besides passport to reg for events. Need ID proving your residency/current address.
— WSOP (@wsop) May 22, 2014
So if you’re travelling to the World Series of poker from outside the United States you had best come prepared with some utility bills and anything else you might think to bring.
The WSOP Vice President of Corporate Communications Seth Palansky told the GlobalPokerIndex.com that the new rule “applies to all casinos, all financial institutions, all places that deal with money. International players are just advised to bring something besides a Passport, because a passport does not provide a home address. A cell phone bill, a utility bill, a Drivers License if it has it. A credit card statement. With online banking, bill pay, etc., everyone should be able to have something that documents where they live.”
Players have been tweeting to the WSOP and Seth Palansky throughout, and while it appears Passports and Driver Licenses from certain countries will be enough (basically if they contain your address information) I would still bring along another form of ID just to be on the safe side.
I can only imagine the nightmarish scenario of arriving halfway around the world only to realize your trip was for naught because you don’t have a cell phone bill with you.
— Alexandre Dreyfus (@alex_dreyfus) May 22, 2014
Why the change?
The new rule almost certainly stems from the recent crackdown by the federal government on potential money laundering in casinos. The new policy first reported on back in March, requires casinos to vet all of their high-rollers, specifically where funds are coming from.
Interestingly, the new policies were not supposed to be in place this quickly, but based on the new WSOP rule it would appear that they are already being enforced by the Treasury Department.
According to a Reuters article from March 26, 2014, “The rule is likely to require casinos to get more information about certain customers in order to shed light on high-risk transactions such as international wires and large cash deposits, said the sources, who asked not to be named.” Both international wires and large cash transactions are the hallmark of the WSOP.
Prior to the new policy being put in place casinos were only required to report suspicious activity, they weren’t obligated to determine where a player’s funds originated, and despite the claims to the contrary by Sheldon Adelson, brick & mortar casinos are easy targets for money launderers as a player can walk in with a boatload of cash and play no questions asked.
Also of interest is that the new policy may very well likely stem from the money laundering case brought against Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. after a drug kingpin laundered over a hundred million dollars at the Sands properties.
The Las Vegas Sands Corp. reached a $47 million settlement to make the case go away, a case that involved Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese businessman with alleged ties to a Mexican drug cartel who laundered an estimated $125 million at the Sands-owned Venetian and Palazzo casinos and other locales between 2004 and 2007.
According to a report at money.CNN.com, “The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said Ye Gon and his associates wired money from a number of different banks and currency exchange houses in Mexico to Sands accounts in the U.S.”
When Gon was apprehended he was in possession of stacks of cash bundled in Venetian money bands.