Industry Reports

British Columbia Lottery Corp. Empowered to Hand Out Fines and Revoke Licenses

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) is being given more authoritative power to impose fines and revoke casino operators’ licenses in a fight against money laundering activities. The British Columbia recently-elected government agreed to reorganize the regulator’s responsibilities and give it more power to oversee B.C. gambling operations and impose hefty sanctions on the wrongdoers. The move comes as part of the province’s anti-money laundering campaign that aims at sweeping dirty cash from casinos.

B.C. self-regulated gambling industry has unintentionally turned into the perfect assistant to help unscrupulous money launders, who used the once thriving Canadian gambling industry to hide their ill-gotten gains and make them look legitimate. In September this year, the recently-elected government washed the former government’s dirty linen in public after digging out a buried casino report alleging money laundering at provincial casinos.

Attorney General David Eby appeared confident that the money laundering problem is deeply rooted and appointed an independent body to investigate the case. The money laundering scandal rocked the Canadian gambling industry, which is still reeling from the slowdown in business. Casinos are cash-intensive businesses, which are vulnerable to money laundering problems. Having its fingers already burnt, the B.C. government is currently trying to tighten its anti-money laundering regulations.

In an interview last Monday, Mr. Eby commented that the previous government did not want to muddy the water with money laundering revelations as it would cut the annual revenue, which B.C. reaps from the gambling industry. According to Mr. Eby, the money laundering crackdown is to reduce the annual gambling revenue by $1.3 billion. The crackdown is currently pending preliminary recommendations from Peter German, who was appointed as an independent expert to investigate the money laundering case.

B.C. Government to Use BCLC as Tool against Money Laundering

Apart from being the province’s main gambling regulator, British Columbia Lottery Corp. also functions as gambling operator. However, this gambling monopoly system proved to be inefficient in Canada. As a result, B.C. government aims at turning BCLC into a regulatory body, which is to oversee B.C. gambling industry. In order to be able to combat money laundering activities at B.C. casinos, the regulator needs greater power to punish the wrongdoers.

Last week, Casino Reports found out that BCLC renewed its operational services agreement (OSA) with licensed casino operators in favor of tougher anti-money laundering regulations. Under the new rules, casino operators are obliged to submit annual business plans. The new OSA is to award compliant casino operators with 5% Facility Investment Commission based on their net turnover. It was stated that the erring service operators, who do not fulfill their agreement are to be fined. Supposing that the wrongdoers keep violating the new rules, the operators will lose their licenses. However, it was not clear which is the authoritative body that is tasked with the penalty functions. According to the latest news, B.C. government appointed BCLC to sanction erring operators and watchdog the gambling industry in the province.