Now that the provincial government is separating the gambling monopoly’s enforcement arm from its operational side, British Columbia’s casinos may face much tougher scrutiny.
BC Attorney General David Eby announced plans to establish a new Independent Gambling Control Office (IGCO) by spring 2021, on Thursday. The IGCO will substitute the Gaming Policy & Enforcement Branch (GPEB), the currently powerless body which is supposed to keep tabs on the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), the government agency which controls the province’s gambling sector.
Formerly, the GPEB had a dual role of establishing and regulating gaming rules while advising the province on gaming-related business matters at the same time. That’s challenging, as BCLC is a key contributor to the province’s budget – over C$1.4b (US$1.07b) in fiscal 2018-19 – and thus making the regulations too strict can negatively impact the government’s ability to pay for things.
This dual role was highlighted as a major conflict of interest in Peter German’s report on the money laundering scandal which dogged the province’s land-based casinos a few years ago. German’s report suggested the formation of a truly independent regulator with “the power to enforce regulations against the most significant entity in B.C.’s gaming environment.”
Whether the IGCO will be any more capable of reining in BCLC’s excesses, remains to be seen. In the end, however ‘independent’ they may seem, the IGCO members will still get paid by the government, and with BC’s major casinos struggling under their new ‘source of funds’ requirements, it won’t be long before someone suggests to lighten up a little.
BEWARE MULES BEARING BANK DRAFTS
As reported by calvinayre.com, Canada’s Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC) issued an operational alert earlier this week, concerning the use of bank drafts at BC casinos by so-called ‘money mules,’ defined as “an individual who, wittingly or unwittingly, transfers or transports proceeds of crime on behalf of a criminal organization or money launderer.”
FINTRAC, which has been worried by the commonly slack anti-money laundering compliance at BC casinos for years now, cautioned operators to be watchful for clients who deposit a “high volume” of bank drafts to their casino accounts or use bank drafts regularly for gaming buy-ins.
FINTRAC has several other recommendations which it wants, not just casinos in BC, but all to follow. It will be IGCO’s responsibility to inform us whether or not BC’s casinos – daily operation of which BCLC farms out to private firms like Great Canadian Gaming Corporation – actually change their immoral ways.