The saga goes on in British Columbia. It is a sad tale of illegal casinos and money laundering. Now more evidence has emerged that vast amounts of cash are flowing into the province through its River Rock casino.
This goes back as far as 2010. Transactions of about $800,000 were enabled by players hauling cash in personal luggage.
Steven Beeksma, a former surveillance manager at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, recalled a case in 2014 when a player brought in $200,000. The player lost $6,000 and cashed out with $194,000 in $100 bills. A clever way to launder money! But he did not intervene at the request of management.
According to Beeksma,
“This is be a case of refining… the player uses the casino to exchange $20
bills for $100 bills for his own purpose or on behalf of a third party. We would
have no way of knowing, but that behavior would be suspicious.”
Why launder at a casino? It’s unlikely that a bank would dispense so much money in low denomination bills.
Now Beeksma works as an anti-money laundering specialist with the lottery corporation. He remembers concerns over the origins of such cash as proceeds from crime. He said there was limited information so no action was taken.
The laundered money could affect real estate, the luxury car business and the gambling sector overall.
Thus, the inquiry launched by the government of British Columbia is revealing. Beeksma said that banned players were seen on surveillance video dropping off bags of cash to patrons in a parking lot. One instance involved $50,000 in a bathroom and the general manager. He also maintained that it wasn’t uncommon for valuable players to be wined and dined by this manager.
New regulations brought in by the B.C. Lottery Corp. in 2015 allowed players to be interviewed to determine the source of their money. It was intended to report suspicious transactions. Fintac, Canada’s financial transactions reporting center, has pointed out unusual conduct to the gaming policy enforcement branch.
The corporation has been trying to control or prevent the flow of dirty money since 2012 with an anti-money laundering unit made up of certified investigators and intelligence analysts.
The Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which owns several B.C. gambling sites, is on the defensive and denies wrongdoing. It affirms efforts to limit money laundering.