B.C. casinos to shift away from cash transactions
The B.C. government says it plans to transition away from the use of cash in casinos in an attempt to crack down on money laundering.
In a statement released Wednesday, the government's Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch did not specify a time table, but said it would be introducing changes with the aim of, "transitioning the gaming industry away from its current state as a cash dependent industry."
Among the immediate changes are plans to allow customers to buy in using certified cheques and electronic fund transfers from "bona fide Canadian financial institutions." Payout wins between $5,000 and $10,000 would also be paid to customers by cheque.
"Ultimately, this strategy will have a layered approach offering a combination of convenience, incentives and requirements. This will isolate money laundering activity from legitimate gaming, enabling highly effective enforcement action," the statement said.
Other changes including increasing staff training around money laundering and working more closely with police agencies to track suspicious activity at B.C. casinos.
"A key objective is to transition toward greater use of electronic funds by making non-cash options more accessible and attractive to customers, while not discouraging legitimate play," said a statement issued by the Ministry of Public Safety on Wednesday.
The changes follow the release of documents obtained by CBC News earlier this year that revealed that $8 million in unusual transactions were reported to gaming authorities between May and August 2010 at some Lower Mainland casinos.
The documents were obtained by CBC through a Freedom of Information request. Police said they believe the facilities are being targeted by organized crime groups looking to launder drug money.