Money laundering by criminal groups at Quebec casinos and gaming halls could still be on the cards, warn experts. A recent report has found that over the last few years, the provincial organization Loto-Québec has reported over CA$420 million in large cash transactions at its gaming properties to the country’s anti-money laundering body.
It is quite common for organized crime groups in any given region to use casino properties to launder their dirty money. And by Canadian law, casinos are required to report suspicious cash transactions and large cash transfers of more the CA$10,000 on their properties to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre. Then FINTRAC’s mandate is to investigate potential money laundering threats.
Casinos Could Still Be Targeted
Between the 2015-2016 and the 2019-2020 fiscal years, Loto-Québec has reported an average of CA$77 million a year in large cash transactions to FINTRAC. This translates to about approximately 5,000 transactions a year or 14 per day. And the number has remained relatively consistent over the years. Meanwhile, the number from 254 in 2015-2016 to 395 in 2019-2020.
Matt McGuire, an internationally recognized money-laundering expert shared that he is not surprised that the Crown is reporting more suspicious transactions now. In his opinion, the Crown could more careful now as a few years ago it was issued an administrative penalty for its failures to follow provincial protocols several years ago. In February 2020, it received a fine dating back to breaches in 2012.
In November 2020, the Crown agency’s activities were questioned after an investigation by TVA, which is a French-language media outlet. It alleged that notorious organized crime members had enjoyed benefits such as free hotel rooms, meals and shows at the Crown’s Casino Montréal. Then an independent audit was launched to look into how casinos operate and monitor their loyalty programs.
The investigation was done by consulting firm Deloitte which was paid almost CA$300,000 to conduct it. Results of the audit were published in the summer of 2021, however, it did not find any discrepancies in the Crown’s operations. After that, the Crown implemented the policy to ban players with a high-risk profile and was able to cancel their loyalty programs’ memberships.
Disputing the 2020 Penalty
This summer Casino Montréal was once again linked with controversy. Reports emerged in May 2022, stating that the legal casino accrued fees of nearly CA$260,000 in relation to allegedly suspicious money transactions on its premises. This was in relation to a fine imposed of CA$147,000 on the Crown corporation by FINTRAC in 2020.
According to it, the gaming leader failed to report multiple money transactions of a greater extent made by one of the casino’s patrons from 2011. Then over the next six years is that the Crown corporation contested the fine which turned out to be quite costly when it comes to the legal fees. After that, the accumulated amount exceeded the sum of the original fine.
Source: Hendry, Leah “Quebec casinos, gaming halls still vulnerable to money laundering by organized crime, experts say” CBC, October 11, 2022