How Criminals Used Canada’s Casinos to Launder Millions

How Criminals Used Canada’s Casinos to Launder Millions

Canadians have been aware of the issues surrounding gambling at the casinos in Vancouver. However, the extent of the money laundering hadn’t been fully disclosed until this month. The new British Columbia attorney general disclosed a litany of issues within casinos in the province.

Gambling in British Columbia

British Columbia is home to 37 casinos. The casinos have nearly 13,000 slot machines, with almost 600 table games. Some of the casinos are commercially owned, while others are First Nations casinos. British Columbia is also home to online gaming, sportsbooks with parlay betting, and lottery games.

The largest casino in British Columbia is River Rock. It is south of Vancouver in Richmond. The casino resort has a hotel with 400 rooms and 70,000 square feet of gaming space. The casino has 1,100 slot machines. There are also progressive slot machines. The casino has seven kinds of poker, as well as blackjack, baccarat, and roulette. River Rock also has VIP gaming rooms for high rollers.

The Issues at River Rock

River Rock CasinoRiver Rock Casino has been the focus of an ongoing investigation for more than a year. The investigation began when authorities arrested a man at the Vancouver airport with a suitcase full of cash. The amount was $250,000. He admitted he was going to River Rock Casino, which gave investigators pause. Authorities investigated the casino. They discovered there were people conducting transactions of large amounts of money, especially in the VIP room. The investigation has led to prosecutions and arrests. One of the people investigated was an executive at River Rock. This person was responsible for putting together junkets for VIP gamblers. The casino later fired this person. The investigation has led to more firings.

The casino has faced pressure to arrest employees who it discovered had taken money so drug cartels could launder it. So far, the casino has refused to disclose whether it has fired anyone. But, investigative journalists have reported some dealers and the executive in charge of the VIP room are no longer there.

The Attorney General’s Report

The attorney general’s report found surveillance videos of individuals who were transporting suitcases stuffed with $20 bills into the casinos. Some people used hockey bags to bring in the cash. They would trade the cash for chips. Then, they would exchange those chips for others used in gambling. The players would then, again, exchange these chips for cash and move it out of the company. Both the attorney general and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have said each has made arrests and has taken cash. The agencies stated they believe Asian drug cartels use most of the illegal money. Some investigators believe the money is making its way out of the country as quickly as it comes in. The attorney general believes casinos in the province have laundered more than $76 million in the last 10 years alone.

The attorney general does not believe the River Rock Casino is the only location where there has been money laundering. In fact, he believes this occurs at many of the casinos in the Vancouver area. The attorney general has put several measures in place to curb money laundering at casinos. First, anyone who brings in more than $8,000 must have proof the money is from a legitimate source. Also, some casinos in British Columbia –including River Rock—are under around-the-clock surveillance by regulators. The attorney general said only time will tell if the new regulations have had an effect. He said he is worried where the laundered money went. He is concerned it has been used to fuel illegal drug supplies.

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