Industry Reports

River Rock Casino Saw CA$20m in Suspicious Cash Transactions in 2015

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia continues its hearing linked to the money laundering patterns exhibited within the province. This Monday saw yet another batch of stories coming from Ken Ackles, Investigations Manager for B.C.’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch. He was keeping a close eyes on the suspicious transactions for years, but had no green light to stop them.

Last week was an important one for the province in general, as the Cullen Commission witnessed the unveiling of many details on the ways casino gaming took place back in the days. Money laundering at casino venues is one of the main concerns of the provincial government seeking better regulations and improved flow of information.

Cullen Commission

This Monday greenlighted more hearings aiming to shed light on the daily operation of casino hotspots and the ways in which anti-money laundering measures failed to bring the best results back in the days. The Investigations Manager for B.C.’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch had the chance to speak in front of the Cullen Commission and share his own story.

As Mr. Ackles made it clear, he had to keep a close eye on everything suspicious happening at River Rock Casino in Richmond. He monitored all large cash transactions taking place there, as high rollers were introducing their money for buy-ins on a daily basis. He confirmed that suspicious cash transactions were really happening every single day, as copious amounts of cash went through the casino hotspot. Mr. Ackles had the task to work on special reports on the subject.

The larger part of his daily work consisted of monitoring everything happening at River Rock Casino and writing the so-called “Section 86” reports. These reports usually relate to any suspicious transactions taking place at gambling halls and casinos in British Columbia. In this particular case, they were following everything happening at the Richmond popular casino.

Suspicious Cash

Back in 2013, Mr. Ackles heard about a high roller bringing about CA$300,000 for his gambling session at River Rock Casino. He introduced the buy-in with CA$20 bills in cash bricks held together with elastic bands. This particular approach was a common practice at the casino, as previous hearings have confirmed. Between 2013 and 2015, the casino venue saw an increase of patrons bringing copious amounts of cash.

Mr. Ackles used an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the transactions and this made it crystal clear that the amounts are considerable. The summer of 2015 saw some CA$20 million and most of these transactions were facilitating small bills. At the time, the Investigations Manager for B.C.’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch decided to notify the Executive Director, who did not expect to see that figure on the spreadsheet.

This did not bring the results Mr. Ackles anticipated, as he still did not get permission to probe suspicious transactions or interview casino patrons. He also pointed out the friction between British Columbia Lottery Corporation and GPEB which existed back in the days, a fact also mentioned in previous hearings. Tuesday will bring more conversation on the subject.