Suspicions are arising in Quebec casinos over mafia connections. The provincial gambling monopoly, Loto-Quebec, is now expected to cooperate with a mandated independent audit. Four land-based venues are allegedly involved.
Improper deals are the target. Finance Minister Eric Girard suspects money laundering among other dodgy dealings. Four land-based casinos are in question.
Reportedly, a series of print and broadcast media reports raised eyebrows over perks doled out to the likes of Stefano Sollecito, a reputed organized crime figure. He is said to have gambled literally millions at Casino de Montreal.
Loto-Quebec insists that it “complies with all regulatory requirements” but the provincial government nevertheless wants real answers.
In addition to searching for money laundering, the audit will review the casino loyalty programs and the alleged luxury perks to controversial figures willing to wager large sums.
A fully public inquiry into the matter has been suggested so voters can hear the allegations. Loto-Quebec and casino execs would then be obliged to testify.
Not just a slap on the wrist
There will be no mere slap on the wrist. The Quebec Solidaire party wants the province to suspend Loto-Quebec’s senior managers in the interim. Then the Parti Quebecois will ask the auditor general to permit provincial legislators to directly question the involved parties.
Loto-Quebec chair Hélène Fortin noted,
“The Crown corporation will ensure that sustained efforts and best
practices are maintained with regard to integrity in our establishments.
Canada’s gambling industry runs on provincial monopolies whose role is both gambling operator and regulator. Perhaps it has gone to far in compromising legalities. Odd since they have been entrusted to observe the rules.
The rampant money laundering at British Columbia casinos over the past decade is a major neon sign of trouble. It may be time for an independent regular to stem the tide of trouble.