Artichoke Joe’s Casino Will Cut Historic $5.3 Million Check Due To Various Violations

Written By Martin Harris on March 26, 2021

The California Department of Justice announced Thursday it has imposed a historically large $5.3 million fine on Artichoke Joe’s Casino in San Bruno.

According to the state DOJ, the penalty results from Artichoke Joe’s having misled gambling regulators and violated the federal Bank Secrecy Act.

The fine represents “the largest agreed-upon penalty in the history of California gambling regulations,” per the release.

Slew of charges brought against Artichoke Joe’s

Located about 12 miles south of San Francisco, Artichoke Joe’s Casino is a 51-table cardroom. The property offers poker, blackjack, baccarat and other card games. The California DOJ reported the casino has the eighth-largest gross gambling revenue in the state.

The DOJ’s announcement explained that the cardroom failed to report in a timely or accurate fashion that it was being investigated by the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). In response, the state DOJ’s Bureau of Gambling Control began a license disciplinary proceeding against Artichoke Joe’s and its owners.

The investigation concerned the casino’s potential violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, a federal law designed to combat money laundering. Ultimately, the casino reached a settlement with FinCEN that involved admitting to violations of the Bank Secrecy Act.

By not reporting the investigation, the casino violated the state’s Gambling Control Act of 1998. That law requires casinos “to make timely, full, and true disclosure to gambling regulators” of such investigations. The Bureau of Gambling Control additionally included the Bank Secrecy Act violations within its allegations.

New penalty adds further costs following earlier $5M fine

The new fine comes on top of FinCEN’s $5 million civil monetary penalty assessed to Artichoke Joe’s in May 2018.

At the time of that penalty, FinCEN maintained the casino had failed to implement procedures to identify loan-sharking operations within its business.

Other compliance failures included not implementing and maintaining an effective anti-money laundering program and the failure to report other suspicious activity.

Those transgressions took place over an eight-year period lasting from 2009 to 2017.

Not best way for Artichoke Joe’s to celebrate centennial

The casino is a landmark of sorts in the state. It first opened more than a century ago as Joe’s Pool Parlor. In fact, this year marks the 100-year anniversary of the property adopting the name Artichoke Joe’s.

According to the casino’s website, the name harkens back to a wisecrack made by original owner Giuseppe “Joe” Sammut when the business took wagers on horse races. Once, Sammut was asked how he would pay off winning bets. Looking at farm fields surrounding the property, Sammut said would pay out winnings in artichoke leaves.

Now, though, the kind of green the casino will have to pay will be legal tender. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Artichoke Joe’s has 45 days to pay the $5.3 million fine. The casino also must pay another $50,000 for additional costs incurred by the Bureau.

From there, Artichoke Joe’s will further need to demonstrate compliance with the settlement’s terms for an additional 36 months in order to retain its license to operate.

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