Anti-money laundering measures hit Vancouver casinos’ bottom line
Data provided by Business in Vancouver shows that revenues for the province’s biggest casinos rose by just 0.1 per cent compared to last year, compared to a 4.4 per cent rise in 2014.
Casino.org reports that province has been scandalised by the extent to which underground banks have been able to launder dirty cash made from the sale of drugs through its casinos.
From January 2018, British Columbia adopted new anti-money laundering procedures that required casino patrons spending CA$10,000 or more within a 24-hour period to provide evidence proving the source of the funds.
Meanwhile, high-risk venues are now monitored by regulators 24/7.
An independent report commissioned by current provincial attorney general David Eby found that operators and regulators had been willing to run a blind eye to big cash transactions, which had transformed British Columbia casinos into a “laundromat for organised crime”, per the report.
One of the worst offenders identified, River Rock Casino, remains the highest revenue generator in the province.
The casino recorded $323.7 million for 2018, but that was down 22.9 per cent from the $420 million record high of 2014, a year before the problem was uncovered, when money laundering was allegedly at its height.
While 52 per cent of its revenues came from slots last year, its table games generated an average of $1.7 million per table, more than any other casino in the top five.
So rife was the money laundering problem in British Columbia that the international intelligence community had taken to referring the system for washing criminal proceeds through the casino VIP segment as “the Vancouver model”.
The model involves the existence of “underground banks” with links to the drug trade.
Chinese VIP visitors arrange to borrow money before they arrive in British Columbia, which allows them to swerve strict controls on the movement of money out of China.
Before leaving China, they agree to transfer the equivalent amount from their Chinese bank account to another account based in China.
Meanwhile, criminals can deposit cash earned through the sale of drugs and other crimes with the underground bank in British Columbia.
The cash is then lent to the high rollers, who convert it into chips at casinos.
They gamble a little before receiving a cheque for their remaining chips from the casino.
Gateway’s expansion rolls on
Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Ltd. continued its assault of Canada earlier this year after acquiring Chances Signal Point, a casino in Williams Lake.
According to a recent press release by Gateway, “this strategic acquisition marks the next milestone in Gateway’s growth strategy which has seen the company expand its footprint and product offering across Canada.”
Gateway now owns 27 properties across Canada, mostly in British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta and employees 8,658 people.
The chief executive officer of Tony Santo said: “everyone at Gateway is very excited to welcome Chances Signal Point and their tea to the Gateway family. We look forward to bringing our unique entertainment offerings to Williams Lake.”
Gateway offers 448 table games and 13,887 slots across its portfolio.
Its properties also feature 561 hotel rooms and 85 restaurants and bars. It first launched 27 years ago.
Kamloops casino acquired in January
This latest announcement comes after Gateway acquired Chances Casino Kamloops in January.
In a press release, the company said it would take over the day-to-day operations of the casino.
It will now be the only gaming provider in Kamloops, operating both Chances and Cascades Casino Kamloops.
Gateway further anticipates the opening of a pair of new major developments in Hanover, Ontario and Chatham-Kent.