Senator Larry Obhof (R–Medina) recently joined Governor John R. Kasich in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office in the Statehouse as he signed into law Senate Bill 141. The legislation allows the Ohio Casino Control Commission to investigate instances of “structured transactions,” a method used by criminals to avoid being prosecuted for money laundering, in Ohio’s casino facilities.
Obhof jointly sponsored the bill with State Senator Jim Hughes (R–Columbus). Supporters of the bill included the Casino Control Commission and Attorney General Mike DeWine.
“We know that some criminals, including drug dealers, have used Ohio’s casinos as a venue for money laundering,” said Obhof. “Senate Bill 141 will give law enforcement an important new tool to crack down on them.”
Current law requires casinos to file a Currency Transaction Report for each cash transaction at or over $10,000. When attempting to use casinos for money laundering purposes, criminals can break up the money into transactions below the reporting threshold (such as $9,000) in order to avoid increased scrutiny. This is what is known as “structuring a transaction,” which is a crime under federal law when carried out in a casino. After minimal gambling, money launderers will cash out and leave the casino with new, “clean” money.
Senate Bill 141 will make it a fifth degree felony under Ohio law to knowingly engage in structuring for the purpose of avoiding detection by law enforcement. By giving state authorities the ability to investigate these crimes, SB 141 will ensure that “structured transactions” can be properly investigated even if federal authorities are unavailable.
The law will go into effect 90 days from the Governor’s signature.