Ahead of a crucial money laundering investigation, more evidence of government corruption in British Columbia’s provincially-owned casino industry keeps emerging.
Global News reported on Wednesday, finding a confidential Royal Canadian Mounted Police report into Asian organized crime elements entering and corrupting casino operations owned by the provincial government’s British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC).
In the RCMP’s January 2009 report, the BC government was urged to use the BCLC-funded Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET) to target drug associations that the RCMP believed were using both BCLC casinos and underground gaming locations to launder money. Rather, the IIGET was shut down by the government three months later.
BC’s gaming minister Rich Coleman claimed at the time, that cuts to BCLC’s budget were responsible for ending IIGET, which Coleman called useless and inept. However, IIGET’s annual budget was just $1m and the resulting casino money laundering free-for-all finally convinced BC to form an IIGET replacement six years later, with an annual budget of $4.3m.
The RCMP report shows a direct link between BCLC casinos and the underground type, noting that BCLC “casino staff have directed patrons to loan sharks or to common gaming houses.” At least seven big loan-sharking rings were known to work in Vancouver-area casinos. (Macau casinos even take action against loan-sharks, perhaps because they’re not operated by the local government).
BC CASINO INVESTOR HAD CONNECTIONS WITH ASIAN CRIMINALS
In the RCMP report, it is also alleged that an individual “connected to Asian organized crime … was allowed to buy into a casino” owned by BCLC. However, both the individual and the casino was anonymous in the copy of the report contained by Global.
Also unidentified was the regulatory investigator who was “involved in the share transfer process” which allowed the crime-connected investor to take a share in the casino. According to the report, the investigator “is alleged to have known about these connections.”
The report doesn’t state if the investigator was concerned regarding this investor’s criminal associates or if the government took any steps in response to anyone sounding the alarm. The investigator supposedly left the government and started working in “the legitimate gaming industry” for an unnamed company.
NO MORE CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Sandy Garossino, former Crown prosecutor, told Global that the accusations contained in the report showed “a mentality of turning a blind eye to criminality” and implied “a complete collapse of regulatory oversight.” This spring, a provincial inquiry into BCLC’s deficiencies is expected to begin.
For years, CalvinAyre.com has spoken about the innate conflicts of the BC government acting as both gambling operator — BCLC assigns private firms for day-to-day management of its casinos — and a regulator supervising gambling activity which contributed more than C$1.4b (US$1.07b) to the provincial budget in fiscal 2018-19.
This mismatched dual role is going to come to an end finally. Strict new source-of-funds requirements introduced by BC’s new provincial government, have impacted the BC casino revenue and last month they announced plans to form a new Independent Gambling Control Office (IGCO) by spring 2021.