RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) – Now that we know casinos in BC have been used as laundromats for dirty money linked to the opioid crisis and real estate speculation, questions remain about the role played by the operators of those gaming centres — including why didn’t they immediately take action after spotting evidence of money laundering?
Peter Goudron, the executive director of the BC Gaming Industry Association, says past efforts to flag problems with authorities often went unanswered.
“We don’t have investigatory capability or the ability to deeply, you know, dig into these things. That’s one of the gaps that occurred. The industry was absolutely diligent reporting each and every one of those occurrences. We did our very best to play our role in the system.”
He insists casino operators have been quick to flag evidence of criminal behaviour and alert police, as well as various levels of government.
“The industry was reporting, but it seems like maybe nobody was listening. It’s still early days and the industry is absolutely committed to working with government regulators to help move those recommendations forward.”
Former RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter German has determined crime groups, primarily from Asia, laundered drug money later used to buy property in a scheme referred to as the “Vancouver model.”
Attorney General David Eby ordered the review last year — shortly after learning someone at Richmond’s River Rock casino accepted $13.5 million worth of $20 bills from a single gambler during July of 2015.
Howard Blank, who worked for various Lower Mainland casinos for several years before becoming a gaming industry consultant, says that would not happen at a casino in Nevada.
“[Nevada] is the largest cash drop in the world.”
Blank, who was interviewed by German, says he believes casino workers need stronger support, so they can report suspicious behaviour.
“Having whistleblower protection policies in place on a global basis opposed to just a company basis.”
Goudron insists casino workers have been reporting criminal behaviour, but government regulators failed to take action.
“We did our very best to fulfill our obligations. Clearly, there was a breakdown. What’s most important now is that we never allow such a breakdown to occur again.”
He also admits the NDP government’s crackdown on money laundering could hurt casino revenues.
“But that can’t be a guiding factor here. This report, the decisive action being taken, actually sets the industry up as a whole for a much brighter, stronger and sustainable future.”
Goudron says the Association, which represents 13 of 16 private operators in BC, supports Eby’s commitment to ensure the gaming industry’s integrity, but he admits annual revenues of nearly $2 billion will likely take a hit because of this crackdown on money laundering.
You can read the full report below:German_Gaming_Final_Report
The 48 recommendations in German’s report titled “Dirty Money” include detailed instructions for better tracking of cash considered the proceeds of crime.
He’s also suggesting the creation of an independent regulator funded by gaming revenue and a designated gaming police force with a focus on the Lower Mainland.