In Canada, a casino near the city of Vancouver has reportedly drawn the attention of provincial officials concerned that wealthy Chinese gamblers may be using its services in order to launder millions of dollars in illicit cash.
According to a report from the Bloomberg news service, British Columbia’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch watchdog could be set to investigate the River Rock Casino Resort following the publication by the western province’s newly-elected Attorney General of the findings of a two-year independent investigation into the venue owned by Great Canadian Gaming Corporation.
Bloomberg reported that the examination of the casino located some 7.5 miles from downtown Vancouver began in September of 2013 and purportedly found that patrons would often make single cash buy-ins of more than $404,000 without disclosing from where the funds had come. In July of 2015 alone, the investigation reportedly concluded that staff had accepted $11 million in C$20 notes while determining that the venue had fostered a “culture accepting of large bulk cash transactions”.
“Reasonable grounds to suspect money laundering activity through the use of un-sourced funds has been confirmed,” reportedly read the investigation’s findings. “While the patron may be bona fide, the un-sourced cash being accepted by the casino may be associated with criminal activity.”
The news service reported that such casinos are required to report any cash transaction worth over $8,079 although the subsequent filing of suspicious transaction reports or the barring of high-risk players is more discretionary. As such, the investigation allegedly discovered that River Rock Casino Resort had reported some 54,187 large cash buy-ins but had filed only 1,194 suspicious transaction reports while issuing 1,209 bans.
“I received a series of briefings that caused me to believe that our province could do more to combat money laundering at British Columbia casinos,” British Columbia Attorney General David Eby reportedly told Bloomberg. “I am making that report public today.”
Eby’s New Democratic Party-led government took office in July and the 40-year-old politician reportedly told Bloomberg that he would like to appoint an independent expert over the coming weeks to review provincial money laundering regulations.
For its part, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which operates 20 facilities located across Canada and the United States, responded to the findings by declaring that it “strictly adheres to all regulatory requirements and maintains the highest standards of reporting at our properties”.
“The British Columbia Lottery Corporation, the Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch and the Financial Transactions and Reporters Analysis Centre have highly detailed and rigorous regulatory obligations that all Great Canadian [Gaming Corporation] facilities in British Columbia adhere to and at all times we govern ourselves to meet or exceed those obligations, rules and standards,” read a statement from Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. “We welcome the Minister’s review of the industry and our operations and, along with direction from the Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, we will adopt any further revisions to the regulatory structure should they direct British Columbia casino operators to do so.”