British Columbia

B.C. Lottery Corp given more oversight to monitor casinos amid review

The British Columbia government is giving the provincial lottery corporation more teeth to monitor the gaming industry amid concerns over money laundering in casinos.

New agreements aimed at boosting discipline and strengthening BCLC's security and compliance oversight

At a news conference in Victoria on Nov. 23, 2017, B.C. Attorney General David Eby said new rules will ensure consequences for casinos where illegal activities, such as money laundering, are taking place. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

The British Columbia government is giving the provincial lottery corporation more teeth to monitor the gaming industry amid concerns over money laundering in casinos.

Attorney General David Eby said Thursday new operational service agreements will be signed with casinos as existing contracts expire. 

The new agreements are aimed at boosting discipline and strengthening the B.C. Lottery Corp's security and compliance oversight, he said.

"I'm very happy there is a new service agreement that is coming into place for B.C. casinos that will increase the ability of the B.C. Lottery Corporation, and, by extension, government, to enforce these policies," said Eby, who is also the minister responsible for gaming.

The new agreements come as the government awaits the results of an independent review into policies and practices in the gaming industry.

Eby launched the review after reading a report commissioned by the previous Liberal government about the River Rock Casino in Richmond accepting $13.5 million in $20 bills in July 2015, which police said could be proceeds of crime.

The July 2016 report says the majority of the cash is being presented by people commonly referred to as "high roller Asian VIP clients" and that River Rock was known to have accepted single cash buy-ins in excess of $500,000.

Rod Baker, the head of the Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which runs River Rock, said last month that compliance procedures are strictly followed and his company is committed to preventing illegal activities at all its locations.

Peter German, a former deputy commissioner of the RCMP and Correctional Service Canada, was asked to conduct the review and his report is due by March 2018, though he was encouraged to make recommendations as he develops them.

German has broad knowledge of money laundering and anti-corruption programs and spearheaded the creation of anti-corruption teams during his time with the RCMP.

"When he provides that advice to me, we need to make sure not only that it's implemented in the form of policy, but that policy is enforceable, that there is actually a consequence on the ground at casinos in British Columbia as a result," Eby said.

The contract changes that were announced Thursday will also make it easier for the lottery corporation to act on the review's findings, Eby added.

Lottery Corp. President Jim Lightbody said the long-term success of the industry will depend on maintaining the security and integrity of gambling.

"The gambling market has evolved significantly since BCLC first took on the role of managing casinos in 1997," Lightbody said in a statement.

B.C.'s Gaming Control Act gives the B.C. Lottery Corp. responsibility for the conduct and management of gambling in the province.