British Columbia gets tough on money laundering in casinos

By Robert Simmons
The government of the Canadian province of British Columbia is giving its lottery corporation greater powers to monitor its gaming industry following high profile instances of alleged money laundering in its casinos.

In September, the British Columbia Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch released a 400 page report following an investigation which identified that large volumes of unsourced cash were being accepted in casinos in the province.

The largest of these instances came in July 2015 when almost $13.5m in $20 bills which was accepted by the River Rock casino in Richmond. Information provided to the authorities indicated that this was “unsourced cash from unknown persons or persons believed to be connected to or participating in illicit activity, was dropped off at the casino or ‘just-off’ casino property for patrons at unusual times, generally late at night.”

Later investigations would indicate that the money predominantly came from so called ‘high roller’ VIP clients from Asia.

Following the publication of the report, the government of British Columbia announced that it would conduct a full review of anti-money laundering policies operating in casinos. Former deputy commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Peter German appointed to conduct the review which is due in March 2018.

In the interim, the government have asked all casinos operating in the state to sign new operational service agreements aimed at stopping further breaches and increasing the operational abilities and enforcement powers of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC).

Casinos which sign up to these agreements will receive a 5% facility investment commission (based on a net win from gambling), with the BCLC being given the power to suspend payment of this commission to any casinos found to be not adhering to the new standards.

Attorney General David Eby, the minister responsible for gaming in British Columbia told the Vancouver Sun newspaper that: “I’m very happy there is a new service agreement that is coming into place for B.C. casinos that will increase the ability of the B.C. Lottery Corporation, and by extension government, to enforce these policies.”

In a statement, Jim Lightbody, BCLC President & CEO said: “The gambling market has evolved significantly since BCLC first took on the role of managing casinos in 1997.

“The new OSA sets the course for the long-term success of the industry in B.C. by working with service providers to create and commit to an investment plan and hold service providers accountable for those plans and for maintaining the security and integrity of gambling.”


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