5 States Allege Metaverse Casino Run by 'Russian Scammers'
Five states have accused a metaverse company called Flamingo Casino Club of concealing alleged ties to Russia while promoting non-fungible token (NFT) scams to US residents.
Securities regulators in Texas, Wisconsin, Kentucky, New Jersey and Alabama filed emergency orders Wednesday requiring the digital casino to cease its NFT business. The coordinated, cross-state effort is an example of how local laws may be enforced in the metaverse going forward as the tech industry continues to invest heavily in the concept.
"Although advances in technologies create exciting new opportunities for many businesses, scammers are already attempting to capitalize on the hype associated with metaverses and NFTs," the Texas State Securities Board said in a statement Wednesday. "Today's action may well be just the tip of the iceberg."
Regulators said Flamingo Casino Club concealed connections to Russia by using a fake office address, out-of-service phone number, and hiding the brand's actual physical location, which investigators say is in Moscow. The club also lied about having a partnership with the physical Flamingo Casino in Las Vegas and failed to back claims that it is buying digital land from Snoop Dogg, regulators allege.
Online scammers often hide their identities to allow them to "go dark" when the scheme is exposed, Texas regulators said. A spokesperson for Flamingo Casino Club could not be reached for comment.
According to the club's website, its NFT holders receive a share of the profits generated by the online casino. The NFT collection currently appears to be delisted from OpenSea. On April 13, the company it was experiencing technical issues due to website maintenance and could not mint its NFTs as a result.