Casino News

Cullen Commission Hears about Underdeveloped Money-Laundering Protocols

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia has dedicated this week in its entirety to the hearings related to money laundering within the borders of British Columbia. Former BCLC assistant manager of casino surveillance John Karlovcec had the right to share his experience with the local gambling field and the suspicions it raised.

The gambling field of British Columbia offered flexibility for many individuals to explore its offerings and possibly benefit from its lax regulations. River Rock Casino in Richmond is the gambling hotspot largely mentioned in the testimonies of all former officials participating in the hearings this week. The latest conversation on the subject highlighted the underdeveloped money-laundering policies back in the days.


Mr. Karlovcec aimed to shed more light on the local gambling field and provide his own point of view on the subject. He made it clear that around 2012, the anti-money laundering policies in place were still ineffective and in the process of development. Back then, British Columbia Lottery Corporation worked on its regulations battling the laundering of criminal proceeds.

However, about eight years after the official launch of the casino resort, they left a lot to be desired. The former Surrey RCMP drug enforcement officer served as a casino investigator for the Crown corporation at the time and he was able to provide his own insight on the way money-laundering battling was taking place on a provincial level. He pointed out Thursday that the policies in question were still in their initial stages and were yet to be refined and improved.

Mr. Karlovcec also made it clear that he often felt helpless when it comes to preventing copious amounts of cash from being laundered on the premises of River Rock Casino in Richmond. Duffel bags filled with cash ready to be gambled were making their way inside the casino hotspot, as high rollers were encouraged to try their luck and gamble more.

Hearings Continue

Great Canadian Gaming Corporation is the casino operator overseeing this brick-and-mortar casino location to this day. When looking at the profits this new casino location generated over that eight-year period, there was a doubling witnessed. Commission counsel Alison Latimer and Patrick McGowan wanted to highlight a problematic detail noticed in the year 2011, when the River Rock Casino employees avoided reporting suspicious cash transactions.

This week saw Gord Friesen, British Columbia Lottery Corporation former Manager of Investigations talk about the lack of reports of transactions below the CA$50,000 mark. The investigation led by Ross Alderson, one of the Crown corporation’s investigators showed that some casino patrons were often making transactions amounting to CA$49,960 or CA$49,980 all in CA$20 bills. Mr. Friesen saw nothing suspicious about that and believed it is unlikely that casino staff supported this practice.

Mr. Karlovcec told the commission that he had concerns but he did not think casino employees were trying to assist and enable money laundering. Back in 2011, the platforms in place were limited and non-cash buy-ins were happening rarely. The government and the Crown corporation were actively working on cashless gaming approaches at the time.