The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which oversees gambling operations in the province, has issued a fine of CA$70,000 to the operator of Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls. The penalty for MGE Niagara Entertainment Inc. comes due to failing to meet provincial protocols to minimize the risk of illegal activity, including money laundering, at the property.
As a provincial regulatory agency, AGCO reports to the Ministry of the Attorney General and is responsible for regulating the alcohol, casino gaming, horse racing and private cannabis retail sectors in the province. These sectors are governed in compliance with the principles of honesty and integrity and the public interest for a better Ontario.
Findings from the Investigation
In its latest press release, the gaming watchdog reveals that in April 2023, a customer of Fallsview Casino Resort showed up CA$80,000 in strapped CA$100 bills from a reusable grocery bag. Camera footage from the gaming resort also confirms that after the money was counted, the patron left the table with casino chips without playing at that time.
In addition to that, despite previously marking the said player as a high risk, the gaming establishment failed to communicate this transaction to the AGCO and on-site police as required. Also, the casino operator failed to take any meaningful steps to determine and verify the client’s source of funds, which is obligatory by the anti-money laundering provision set out by the province.
AGCO reiterates the prevention of illegal activities across gaming locations as one of its key priorities. It says casino operators have a vital role to play and must take steps to efficiently identify and prevent criminal acts from occurring at such locations. Operators must report suspicious behaviours and validate a customer’s source of funds when witnessing large amounts of cash.
Dr. Karin Schnarr, Chief Executive Officer and Registrar at AGCO commented the regulator is devoted to protecting the public interest and safety and will remain on high alert in its efforts to defend against potential money laundering. She added operators are important partners in this effort and the regulator holds all participants to rigorous standards when it comes to preventing unlawful activity.
Monitoring iGaming Activities
In addition to overseeing land-based gambling, AGCO is also keeping close tabs on the Ontario internet gaming market which kicked off on April 4, 2022. In November 2023, the regulator issued a CA$150,000 fine to PointsBet Canada as the iGaming operator failed to appropriately intervene and provide help to one of its players in the province who experienced gambling issues.
However, PointsBet is not the only brand to be penalized by the province for irregularities since the start of the new market. In August 2022, Unibet breached the province’s advertising and inducement standards and suffered a fine of CA$48,000. Its violations were in connection to publishing and broadcasting ads stating that it offers generous welcome offers.
Source: “AGCO issues penalties to Fallsview Casino operator for anti-money laundering violations” AGCO, January 24, 2024