Industry Reports

BC Casino Operators Served as Contribution Donors to Former Liberal Government Ahead of 2017 Elections

The casino industry of British Columbia has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the province’s Liberal Party. The amount also included nearly CA$350,000 which was received by BC Liberals from two companies operating casinos named in the recent report on money laundering in the province.

The information concerning the donations made by the local casino industry to the Liberal Party of BC raised some questions whether the contributions made by the sector crossed the line or not, especially considering the revelations made recently. The report detailing the alleged large-scale money laundering schemes at local casinos was released last week by British Columbia Attorney General David Eby also hinted that the weak regulatory regime in terms of the province’s gaming industry was one of the main factors to blame for the situation.

As reported by PressProgress, according to the information included in the political financing records, two gambling operators which casinos have been named in the recently-issued report, gave the former BC governing party a total of CA$312,000 over the two years before the provincial government elections in 2017. Over the years, a number of media reports blamed the former government of the province for turning a blind eye to the schemes which used local casinos to wash money from illegal activities.

Two of the main corporate contributors to the British Columbia Liberals have been the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation and Gateway Casinos. The companies currently own two of the casinos allegedly involved in money laundering schemes in the province – the Starlight Casino in New Westminster and the River Rock Casino in Richmond.

Massive Contributions Preceding 2017 Elections Made

According to financial records from the period before the 2017 elections in British Columbia, the province’s Liberal Party has received a total of CA$220,304 by Gateway Casinos since 2015. On the other hand, the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation contributed another CA$127,274 over the same time span. Up to date, the amount donated to the BC Liberals by the two companies has totaled CA$347,000.

It also became clear that the Liberal Party received CA$87,630 from the two companies over the 6-month period leading up to 2017 elections. In addition, some top executives and subsidiaries of both companies have made large contributions to the party.

According to information revealed by the financial reports, the amount given to the BC Liberals by River Rock Casino is estimated to nearly CA$4,000 since 2015. Chuck Keeling, a top executive of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, is reported to have made over 20 individual donations to the former governing party, estimated to approximately CA$10,000. Anthony Santo, the Chief Executive Officer of Gateway Casinos, has made a contribution of a little over CA$1,000 to the Liberals, while the Government Relations Executive of the company, Shieraa Stuart, has donated more than CA$2,000.

In any case, considering the fact that the former Liberal Government of the province did almost nothing to tackle the foul practice related to money laundering schemes, the large monetary contributions made to the party do raise some questions about the priorities of the former BC Government. Allegations in corruption and many violations of the gambling legislation of the Canadian province have complemented the rumors in the local media that the ex Liberal Government had not been impartial and was more occupied in receiving donations from large corporate players rather than in protecting the industry from illegal practices.