Money-laundering rules beginning to bite in Richmond

The River Rock Casino in Richmond | Shutterstock

B.C.’s new anti-money laundering rules appear to be working in Richmond but, as with most things in life, there’s a hefty price to be paid.

Quite how much that bill comes to is unclear.

However, according to Great Canadian Gaming’s latest financial report, for the first six months of 2018, gaming table revenues at the River Rock Casino are down due, primarily, to recommendations from an independent review by Peter German, a former RCMP deputy commissioner.

Great Canadian said the reduction – it’s not known by how much - was partly attributable to a new requirement late last year for casinos to complete disclosures on the source of cash deposits or bearer bonds of more than $10,000.

“Although the source of funds procedures were instituted quickly, management’s analysis has indicated that the players at the company’s casinos are adjusting their playing habits and behavior accordingly,” read a section of the report.

Another excerpt, in reference to gaming revenues dropping, read, “Decreased gaming revenues was also due to declines in Table Drop at River Rock, primarily attributable to the BCLC source of funds procedures implemented on January 10, 2018…”

The B.C. government launched the review last year over concerns about Chinese high-roller VIPs buying chips with huge amounts of cash that, it said, could be proceeds of crime.

Those issues were outlined in a confidential report commissioned by the B.C. Lotteries Corp. from auditor MNP LLP that found $13.5 million in $20 bills had being accepted in the River Rock Casino in July 2015.

In releasing his final report at the end of June, German concluded that, for many years, certain Lower Mainland casinos unwittingly served as “laundromats” for the proceeds of organized crime and that laundered money was linked to drug trafficking and real estate transactions in the Lower Mainland’s heated housing market.

Last week, B.C. Attorney General David Eby told the Vancouver Sun that suspicious transactions flowing through B.C.’s casinos had dropped to $200,000 in March of this year from a high of $20 million in July 2015.

Eby added that he recognized that the new rules would likely result in a drop in revenue for the casinos in question.

He said the province is encouraging casinos to focus on lower-stakes tables and stay away from high-stakes tables that will be the most affected by the anti-money laundering initiatives.

Great Canadian saw gaming revenues at B.C. casinos fall five per cent, or $6.6 million, in the first six months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

Richmond News