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HomeMiscellanyExclusive: Suspicious transactions moved across the street when Vancouver’s new Vegas-style casino opened

Exclusive: Suspicious transactions moved across the street when Vancouver’s new Vegas-style casino opened

Bob Mackin

Opening night at Parq casino (Parq)

Less than an hour after its opening ceremony, Parq Vancouver casino recorded its first suspicious transaction. 

An incident report to the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch from casino security shows that “(Identity censored by government) bought in $30,000 all in $100s at Salon Jade West” at 11:51 p.m. on Sept. 29.

Salon Jade West is one of two high roller gambling rooms on the third floor of the controversial $600 million gambling palace beside B.C. Place Stadium.

Three more incidents happened before the casino was even 24 hours old. An unspecified cheat at play incident was reported at 4:01 a.m. Sept. 30. At 8:33 p.m., another suspicious transaction: A gambler, whose name was censored, bought-in for $10,000 with 500 $20 bills. Less than 90 minutes later, at 10 p.m., “(Identity censored) bought in for $9,980 in $20 bills.”

The Ministry of Attorney General disclosed 17 incident reports during Parq’s first week to the theBreaker, under the freedom of information law. Eleven of the incidents involved gamblers who were denied entry or asked to leave the premises because of temporary B.C. Lottery Corporation bans. Some of the prohibitions stretch into 2021. Parq’s predecessor, Edgewater Casino at the nearby Plaza of Nations, reported 26 incidents during its final week of operations, and those reports were also released to theBreaker. Sixteen incidents involved player prohibitions.

The biggest suspicious transaction during Edgewater’s final week was Sept. 23 at 9:25 p.m., when a person, whose identity was censored, “bought in for $10,000 (20 x $100 and 400 x $20).” 

On Sept. 28, at 5:39 p.m., a gambler “passed $5,000 in $100 bills” to another person. 

Documents also show that a threat was made against a security guard at 2:12 p.m. on Sept. 22, a patron spat at a security guard on Sept. 24 at 1:55 p.m., and a BCLC employee suffered a theft at 3:49 a.m. on Sept. 25. 

Police were not called to investigate any of those incidents.

The Ministry of Attorney General deferred comment to BCLC, which took almost three days to respond. The Crown corporation’s communications department said the person who made the threat against the security guard was banned for nine months and the person who spat at a security guard was banned for 12 months. 

BCLC did not explain why police were not called. It said it is the casino’s obligation to notify WorkSafeBC if the incidents met WorkSafeBC reporting criteria. 

As for the theft, BCLC said the victim was actually a BCLC contractor and the item stolen was an impact drill. 

“The individual who stole the drill departed the casino and was not identified,” said the Crown corporation. “The BCLC contractor declined police involvement. The value of the stolen good was approximately $100 to $200.”

Parq spokeswoman Tamara Hicks did not address any of theBreaker’s questions. By email, she said “all incidents are reported to BCLC and GPEB as per our protocols and were in alignment with policies and procedures.”

The denomination of choice at Vancouver casinos. (Bank of Canada)

The only time during the period that police were called was Sept. 25 for an 8:15 p.m. incident at Edgewater in which a person “made comments about losing money and past suicidal tendencies.”

In April 2011, the Vision Vancouver majority city council allowed Paragon to move its 600 slot machine, 75 gambling table licence from the Plaza of Nations to the new complex. It rejected an application to expand the licence to 1,500 slots and 150 tables. 

Eighteen veteran police officers with experience investigating gambling-related crime opposed the relocation and expansion proposal in 2011. Their letter to city council highlighted the risk of increased organized crime and gambling addiction that would result from the new casino. 

Peter German, a law professor at the University of B.C. and former head of the RCMP in Western Canada, was hired by Attorney General David Eby in September to review money laundering at Metro Vancouver casinos. Eby adopted his first recommendations in early December: more rigorous vetting of cash and bearer bond deposits over $10,000 and round-the-clock staffing by GPEB investigators at casinos. 

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Sec 86 GPEB Reports Parq by BobMackin on Scribd