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.
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.