The B.C. government is appointing an independent expert to look into potential money laundering in Lower Mainland casinos, a concern explored in a year-old report that the previous government never released.

Attorney General David Eby says the expert will explore whether money laundering has been addressed "inadequately" or not addressed at all.

A 2016 report probed suspicious cash transactions at gaming facilities across the province, but details were not made public, said Eby.

When he took over his new post he says staff flagged the report dated July 26, 2016.


A 2016 report probed suspicious cash transactions at gaming facilities across the province, but details were not made public. ((CBC))

"I received a series of briefings that caused me to believe that our province could do more to combat money laundering at B.C. casinos," he said.

"During these discussions, a publicly-funded report that had been commissioned to review anti-money laundering policy and practices in B.C. was shared with me."

This report makes a series of serious recommendations for reform, which should have been made public at the time the report was complete. I am making that report public today."

The recommendations in the report include moving to cash-alternatives at gaming facilities, refusing unsourced cash deposits over a certain amount and requiring higher-risk patrons to divulge the source of their funds.

The report prepared by MNP LLP found approximately $13.5 million in $20 bills were accepted at the River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond during July 2015.

Casino money laundering concerns

The recommendations in a 2016 report include moving to cash-alternatives at gaming facilities and requiring high-risk patrons to divulge the source of their money. (CBC)

Police fear that money may come from crime.

A series of CBC News stories found in 2014 that during a three-month time period that spring, almost $27-million worth of suspicious cash transactions were documented by just two Lower Mainland casinos — the River Rock and the Starlight in New Westminster.

"We take our responsibility to manage gaming in our province very seriously and always welcome the opportunity to improve our practices," said BCLC president and CEO Jim Lightbody in a statement.

"We have zero tolerance for criminals who may attempt to target our business. If there is something more we can do to improve the anti-money laundering efforts in B.C., we'll do it."

B.C. casino stock

The B.C. government is launching an investigation to look at whether there is money laundering going on at Lower Mainland casinos. (CBC)