The gambling industry has become the fastest-growing sector in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Quite unsurprisingly, cash-intensive businesses such as banks are extremely vulnerable to money laundering. Casinos are also classified as cash-intensive businesses, which are usually dealing with high volumes of large cash transactions. Moreover, casinos offer many financial services, including accounts, foreign exchange and others. The rapid growth of the gambling industry has attracted the attention of criminals, looking to disguise their ill-gotten gains.
The issue of money laundering appeared on the radar screens of media and British Columbia gambling watchdogs in 2015, when River Rock reportedly accepted C$13.5m in C$20 bills. The suspicious cash transaction involved unsourced cash in just a single month. The B.C. Lottery Corporation was recommended to tighten its anti-money laundering measures. Last year, Attorney General David Eby released a report into alleged money laundering activities at River Rock Casino in Richmond.
As a result, the B.C. government has appointed Peter German as an independent expert to review the anti-money laundering policies, adopted by the Lower Mainland casinos. German is tasked with presenting a package of recommendations to reform British Columbia’s anti-money laundering framework. German’s review is expected to be completed by March this year. German already filed the first two preliminary recommendations and British Columbia’s attorney general vowed to implement them as soon as possible.
The New Anti-Money Laundering Measures Seek More Transparency
On Wednesday this week, it became clear that the B.C. government adopted new anti-money laundering measures in an attempt to curb suspicious cash transactions at the province’s land-based casinos. Generally speaking, the new regulations are directed to more transparency regarding large cash transactions at casinos.
The new measures require all high-rollers, who want to buy chips worth C$10,000 or more within a 24-hour period at a casino in B.C, they need to verify the source of their funds. The measure is valid for the different type of payment methods, including cash, bank drafts and certified cheques.
Supposing that the casino customer is not willing to provide the required information or the casino workers find the given information suspicious, the casino should refuse the transaction and report to the government authorities. The money laundering practice through British Columbia’s casino has become popular as the “Vancouver Model” that includes illicit Chinese bank networks.
As it can be recalled, the local government gave more powers to BCLC to impose fines and even suspend licenses if needed. The move came as part of the province’s crackdown on money laundering. It is expected that the government is to introduce more anti-money laundering regulations in the near future.