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UK – Enfield wises up to BigBluff

By - 16 April 2014

Enfield Council has become the first local authority in the United Kingdom to successfully prosecute a person for money laundering in relation with the running of an illegal poker den.

Ahmet Melin, 33, of Cheshunt, Herts, denied, but was found guilty of five offences of money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 at Wood Green Crown Court on Thursday April 10. He will be sentenced on May 27; money laundering carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.

He was prosecuted after Enfield Council enforcement officers found the Big Bluff Private Members Club in Green Lanes; Palmers Green was actually a front for an illegal poker club and not a non-profit making private members club in line with its Club Gaming Permit.

Commercial poker operations require a casino licence and Enfield Council’s policy is not to issue casino licences to properties in the borough.

Because Big Bluff was operating large poker tournaments and all the profits from them were illegal they amounted to criminal assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act because Melin was withdrawing money from the club for his own purposes.

The club was raided in September 2012 by Enfield Council’s Licensing Enforcement and Trading Standards Teams, the Gambling Commission and the Metropolitan Police. The Big Bluff Private Members Club has since stopped operating.

Enfield Council’s Director of Environment, Ian Davis, said: “These are very serious offences and the council took robust action when it became clear the Big Bluff Private Members Club was a front for an illegal poker den. I’m pleased Enfield Council’s Licensing Enforcement, Trading Standards and Legal teams worked together to bring this prosecution which sends out the very clear message that we do not tolerate any illegal gambling in this borough.”

Nick Tofiluk, the Commission’s Director of Regulatory Operations said: “This is an excellent example of how a local authority with Gambling Commission support is dealing with illegal gambling in whatever guise it is presented. The message is simple – if you offer poker in a club and are breaking the law, action can and will be taken.”

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