Ready, fire, aim

Andrew MacLeod provided the title above in a Thursday Tweet linking to his column in The Tyee. Slots on Ferries a Complicated Bet, Warned Finance Ministry:

After Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced BC Ferries’ proposal to put slot machines on its vessels last year, the finance ministry began compiling a list of concerns that ranged from the need to rewrite provincial gambling laws to the likely violation of the federal criminal code.

Records released to The Tyee in response to a freedom of information request show the finance ministry had a dozen “considerations” about the Nov. 2013 proposal, and that Stone had already taken the idea to cabinet without consulting the branch of the finance ministry that regulates gambling in the province…

This is evidence that thoughtful government planning in British Columbia is rare. So too, it seems, is competence. BC Liberals have wrestled or pretended to wrestle with the issue of money laundering in casinos for some years. When it comes to finding effective solutions, either they lack the needed savvy or the commitment.

Casinos saw $27M in suspicious transactions, CBC News, October 16, 2014

A CBC News investigation has discovered a rush of suspicious money totalling almost $27 million flowed through two B.C. casinos this spring. Most of the mystery money that came in from mid-March to mid-June arrived in bundles of $20 bills — a common currency used to buy street drugs…

A new issue? No, in August 2011, this blog first published Gangsters love dealing cash. It is repeated here with minor editing.


News item: Catherine Pope, reporting for Global News, August 25, 2011:

It’s not clear how big of a problem money laundering is in BC casinos but the government admits it’s not uncommon for people to walk into casinos with suitcases filled with tens of thousands of dollars in small bills.

You can bet that Global News and their corporate media colleagues are not about to do any detailed investigation to find the extent of the problem. However, they will dutifully trumpet memos and reports issued from Victoria.

Money laundering is the subject of an August 24 government press release. BC Liberal minions pulled out the stops to assure us that, having been told by critics about the possibility of money laundering at gaming facilities, they are thinking of “…appointing a task force to report on the types and magnitude of any criminal activity…”

This is an example of governing by press release. The actual report “Anti-Money Laundering Measures at BC Gaming Facilities” was produced by the Solicitor General’s office in February, six months ago. It was not a considered and expert view of illegal cash transactions at casinos, it was an internal political response to heavy criticism in the media following reports the month before of suspicious gamblers entering facilities with massive sums of cash in small denominations.

Douglas Scott, Assistant Deputy Minister for Gaming, Solicitor General, Province of BC had this revelation while posing for the cameras at a Victoria news conference:

The casinos of today are bringing in significantly more revenue than in the past so as a result that now makes them a target for money launderers where they would not have been previously.

That is a foolish statement because any person with an ear to the ground knows that money laundering has long been a prevalent activity at casinos. It didn’t suddenly begin in the last few years. Additionally, gambling revenues are down all over. Recession weary Las Vegas is now the foreclosure capital of the USA and Atlantic City gaming revenue has declined on the monthly year-over-year basis for 35 straight months. BC has not been immune and, according to Sun writer Pete McMartin:

B.C. Lottery Corporation has paid out more than $400 million in gambling revenues to B.C. casino operators so that they can recoup their capital costs.

Perhaps Scott and his colleagues in Victoria had not been much concerned about money laundering because the BCLC had looked carefully at itself in 2010 and determined:

BCLC, in terms of policies and procedures, has a robust anti-money laundering regime in place. Further, it was determined that GPEB has the required level of anti-money laundering expertise and is capable of discharging its responsibility to provide oversight as it relates to anti-money laundering and associated criminal activities at gaming facilities.

Katie Derosa at the Times Colonist wrote this:

Currently, customers are given a cheque for their winnings and cash for the remaining amount of their original buy-in. Casinos will now encourage people to take a cheque that states the amount is for the original buy-in, which creates a paper trail for auditors and prevents people from claiming funds to be gaming wins.

However, Scott admitted there is nothing to compel gamblers to accept a cheque or use electronic transfer.

NDP gaming critic Shane Simpson said the review had failed to recommend limits on how much cash a person can take into a casino. For example, a gambler can still take in $400,000 in $20 bills and cash it in for chips, a practice which sounded the alarm for Mounties and sparked the review.

There you have it fellow citizens. We will fight money laundering by encouraging, but not compelling, crooks to accept a cheque from casinos when they are laundering proceeds of drug crime.

And, if that doesn’t work, we’ll consider STRONGLY encouraging crooks to do the right thing.

Also read Money laundering and casinos, who knew? from April 2014.

Categories: Gambling

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9 replies »

  1. I guess, lower mainland drug dealers can launder their money on BC Ferries, while they check their Vancouver Island operations.


  2. I get cleaned out of most of my money each month anyway, so laundering it isn't an issue for me. As a result, I'm a bit naive on the money-laundering process.

    Are criminals looking to shake free of marked bills that police might use against them? Is that the base issue?

    Unless criminals are running the casinos: how does money laundering benefit a casino? Why would they (and the government) want to aid the process?

    In the earlier story, Evil Eye speaks of a small-time launderer who used a Keno machine to do his daily washing. Load it up, play a few games (presumably small bets) and cash out. Done! We shouldn't be making this so easy.


  3. Drug dealers and their ilk have long frequented casinos in BC, not only to launder their money but to pay off their associates and business partners using laundered gambling chips. The recipients then cash out these chips at their leisure. They prefer to be paid out in cash for obvious reasons and are still able to do so as payouts using BCLC cheques are only ëncouraged”. The so-called investigators are mainly retired police officers who are capable of curbing this illegal activity but are obviously not encouraged” to do so. When is the last time anyone has heard of a successful casino based money laundering prosecution? The idea of a task force is also laughable. Casinos have more cameras installed than your average movie set. The money laundering players and their associates have long since been identified and their transactions documented.


  4. Here is the “Idiots Guide to Money Laundering”.

    Certainly chips are the best way to launder money, but here is what the small guy does. Slot machines in casinos accept cash up to $50 or $100 bills. Slip in 10 $100 bills for a $1000, give a few plays and cash out. You then get a slip of paper which you take to a cash machine and viola, you get your cash. Very quick to do and no questions asked.

    The “Eye” observed this phenomenon in Penticton, where several older men and ladies, fed the slots a lot of bills, play a few times, then go and cash out. They ten repeated the excersise, but by that time, the “Eye” was out of cash and luck seemed to be this the others as they kept returning to the cash machine to get their 'winnings'.


  5. @ G. Barry Stewart

    Most pubs will pay out regulars up to $500 for a BC Lottery chit (they must have a sizable “cash on hand”: to bay out pull tab winners) and some pubs will pay more. What is not well known, lottery stores may pay up to $9,999 for a chit, with many demanding a 10% cut to do so. In the “Eye's” local, there are two lottery stores which are known to do this and with a 10% take, they are making a tidy sum.

    The “Eye” last year won a $1000 Keno “Doubler” (I picked 5 numbers and won $500, which is doubled to $1000) which my local postal outlet, which has a Keno machine, cashed for me at the end of the day – no charge, I might add.

    Laundering monies, using Keno machines is dead easy and if one is not greedy and willing to pay a cut. I have been told by those in the know, that it is understood, that one may loose upwards of 50% of the value of cash being laundered and why a lot of “trade” (weed for cocaine or guns) takes place. By laundering local, one may convert $10,000 to 20,000 a week using keno machines and local bars and Lottery dealers, and remain under the radar.

    The other great laundering scheme, but long term (10 to 20 years) is real estate, where cash come from fictitious lenders through dummy companies, to be laundered when the real estate sells.


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