Five U.S. states order halt to NFT sales by metaverse casino with alleged Russia ties
In addition to this murky money trail, the purported partnership with the Flamingo Las Vegas, a well-established casino located on the Strip, was also fabricated, Rotunda said. The cease-and-desist order says Flamingo Casino Club’s “representations are false,” and the Las Vegas casino denies any relationship.
But the phony partnerships don’t end there, according to the order. Flamingo Casino Club touts affiliations with Yahoo and MarketWatch, but there’s no evidence substantiating any relationship with these businesses, the order says.
“Flamingo Casino Club is not providing purchasers with any information reflecting any type of relationship with either Yahoo or MarketWatch,” the order says, adding that the casino provided hyperlinks to press releases distributed to Yahoo Finance and MarketWatch.
In its promotional video, Flamingo Casino Club announced plans to build the virtual casino on the metaverse platform The Sandbox, but nothing’s been built yet.
The casino’s leadership team wrote on Instagram that it delayed purchasing digital land because of ongoing negotiations with Snoop Dogg, who owns portions of the Sandbox property it plans to build on, according to the order and the casino’s own social media posts.
The order said the casino is “intentionally failing to disclose the status of negotiations for purchasing virtual land from Snoop Dogg” as well as “the anticipated or projected cost of purchasing the virtual land.”
Through a series of subpoenas, regulators discovered that the IP address for Flamingo Casino Club’s desktop computer and mobile device are registered to Moscow, further diminishing the chances of investors seeing any returns.
“Investors have to chase those ghosts to try to recover. And they’re not going to recover if the money is going to Moscow,” Rotunda said.
Additionally, Rotunda said that the casino operators started mobilizing Flamingo Casino Club right around the time that Russia invaded Ukraine and that they later told investors some profits from their NFT sales would be donated to Ukrainian victims.
“And they didn’t just talk about how they were going to donate to Ukrainian civilians to one person or two people, they publicly proclaimed it,” Rotunda said. “I haven’t seen any money going to benefit Ukrainians.”
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