California Card Clubs raided in $10m Money Laundering Case

Authorities have raided two California-based card clubs in connection with a massive illegal gambling ring that operated out of Southern California. The ring took bets from Canada to Mexico and laundered an estimated $10 million through Las Vegas casinos and San Diego card clubs.

Hundreds of federal and local authorities raided San Diego’s Palomar Card Room and Chula Vista’s Seven Mile Casino before seizing over $600,000 from various bank accounts. Both card clubs were temporarily closed afterward on the authority of the state Bureau of Gambling Control.

Police were tipped off to the illegal gambling ring when it was discovered that they were failing to report numerous cash transactions worth over $10,000. The card club owners have since been charged with various money laundering violations.

Arrests in connection with the case have spanned seven states, including California, Arizona, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.

A large part of the operation ran out of rented mansions in the wealthy areas of San Diego County and Rancho Santa Fe, where bookmakers earned millions through illegal online sports betting and live high stakes casino games.

“Up to three times a week, some defendants held intimate high-stakes poker and blackjack games in extravagant settings that featured professional card dealers, prostitutes, chefs and waitresses,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office told ABC News.

The main defendant in this case is David “Fat Dave” Stroj of San Diego, whom authorities claim “used financiers, a business manager, sub-agents, money runners, money couriers and debt collectors” to operate the bookmaking operation that collected up to $500,000 in monthly profits.

Stroj is believed to have 360 clients in various cities, such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, Toronto and Tijuana. Authorities say that Stroj’s operation laundered $10 million through card clubs, shell companies, Bellagio casino, Wynn casino and a Las Vegas bail bond business.

The sports betting clients wrote checks to the card clubs and casinos, where the money would be placed in the bookmakers’ accounts and later withdrawn in chips or cash.

The casinos themselves have not been charged with anything. Seven Mile Casino said that they’re ready to work with the “Bureau of Gambling Control to resolve all issues.”