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HomeMiscellanyMixed results in gambling regulator’s annual report

Mixed results in gambling regulator’s annual report

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Bob Mackin

The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch recommended charges, administrative actions and warnings in 260 cases during the last fiscal year, a minimal increase of two cases. 

British Columbia’s gambling regulator’s annual report for the year-ended March 31, which was published May 31, said 1,158 of the 1,394 incidents reported last year were investigated. More than half of the incidents investigated — 593 — were classified by GPEB as non-gambling-related Criminal Code matters, such as assault, counterfeit currency, fraud, loan sharking, false ID, theft and threats. The number of files that were investigated increased by 22 over the previous year and enforcement action was taken in 61 cases, versus 34 in 2016-2017. 

River Rock Casino Resort (Great Canadian Gaming)

There were fewer Gaming Control Act offences investigated (179 last year, versus 218 in 2016-2017) and fewer enforcement actions taken (126 versus 151). 

Chip passing incident reports fell from 482 in 2016-2017 to 321 in 2017-2018, but a footnote said that GPEB does not take action because such offences are handled by casino management.

“GPEB collects this data to analyze any association to suspicious currency activities,” the report said. “It also does not include suspicious cash transactions (1,876 incidents in 2017/18) which are reported for intelligence purposes only, and are not investigated on a file-by-file basis.”

The suspicious cash transaction reports statistic fell from 2,310 the year before, the last fiscal year of the BC Liberal government. The number of reports of prohibited patrons caught entering gambling facilities grew from 2,608 to 3,271 last year. Incidents are the responsibility of casino management; GPEB does not take action unless they are repeat offenders.

David Eby, the NDP Attorney General responsible for gambling regulation and marketing, tabled the report during the last day of the spring sitting of the Legislature, two days after BC Liberal critic John Yap had quizzed him in a budget estimates hearing. There is no immediate explanation for the delay. 

Eby claimed in that hearing that BCLC would suffer a $30 million decline in net revenue from increased anti-money laundering controls which began last fall.

More than a month ago, Eby told theBreaker that an expert report submitted March 31 by Peter German into money laundering at Metro Vancouver casinos was supposed to be released before the end of the Legislature session. During the May 29 hearing, he told Yap that the $200,000 report’s release was delayed again, but he did not offer a new target date. Eby’s explanation — the reported needed vetting to protect privacy of individuals and police investigations — has not changed.  

The GPEB annual report said that it had established a Gaming Intelligence Group with the BCLC and police forces to reduce suspicious cash at casinos. 

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

GPEB’s budget was cut by more than $700,000 to $19.145 million in 2017-2018, of which $13.13 million was for core operations and $6.01 million to deal with addiction. The NDP’s 2018-2019 budget gave the agency a slight uptick, to $19.235 million. 

During the last fiscal year, BCLC netted $1.4 billion for government coffers after grossing $3.3 billion from casinos, bingo halls, racetracks, online gambling and lotteries. 

Almost a year ago, on June 13, 2017, B.C.’s organized crime police agency announced it had made several arrests in a year-long illegal gambling and money laundering investigation. Asked whether anyone had been charged yet, Sgt. Brenda Winpenny of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit said on May 30 the investigation is still ongoing and no further information would be released at this time. 

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