Toronto

PCs demand Wynne 'halt this deal' with casino firm while B.C. probes money laundering

The Progressive Conservatives are demanding the Ontario government put its deal on hold with Great Canadian Gaming Corporation to run casinos in the Greater Toronto Area while an investigation into alleged industry money laundering continues in British Columbia.

Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, selected to run 3 GTA casinos, says it is 'not under investigation'

PC finance critic Victor Fedeli is calling on Ontario government to halt its casino deal with Great Canadian Gaming Corporation amid a money laundering investigation in B.C. (Jessica Hill/The Associated Press)

The Progressive Conservatives are demanding the Ontario government put its deal on hold with Great Canadian Gaming Corporation to run casinos in the Greater Toronto Area while an investigation into alleged industry money laundering continues in British Columbia.

"We are calling on Premier Wynne to step in and halt this deal in Ontario immediately," said PC finance critic Victor Fedeli at Queen's Park Monday.

In August, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) announced Great Canadian Gaming Corporation and Brookfield Business Partners LP were chosen to run three casinos in the GTA — OLG Slots at Woodbine, OLG Slots at Ajax Downs and the Great Blue Heron Casino.

But then in September, B.C. Attorney Aeneral David Eby, concerned about money laundering, announced the government was launching an independent review of the gambling industry and its policies.

He said what led to that decision was reading a government report that alleged the Great Canadian Gaming's River Rock Casino accepted $13.5 million in $20 bills in July 2015. The company, however, says to its knowledge it is "not under investigation."

Police in B.C. said it could be proceeds of crime.

"We're talking about hockey duffel bags full of cash," said Fedeli . 

Fedeli wants to know what the Ontario government knew at the time the deal was reached.

"Either they knew about it and didn't have that play into their decision, which means they're derelict in their duties, or they didn't know about it, which also means they're derelict in their duties for not knowing," he said.

'Committed to preventing illegal activities,' Great Canadian Gaming says

Great Canadian Gaming says it has ensured that regulatory compliance procedures are strictly followed, and it is committed to preventing illegal activities at all of its locations.

"Contrary to suggestions otherwise, to our knowledge our company is not under investigation in any jurisdiction," chief operating officer Terrance Doyle said in a statement.

"Our employees followed all procedures required of them by BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC), none of our employees are facing charges, nor we do not believe our company's actions would give cause to initiate any investigation."

OLG also released a statement Monday in response to the story.

"OLG has confirmed with B.C. and Ontario regulators that Great Canadian is not under a criminal or regulatory investigation in British Columbia or Ontario for illegal activity involving money laundering." 

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said it would be "totally inappropriate" for a minister such as himself to get involved and expressed confidence in OLG's procurement process.

During an event in Toronto on Monday, Premier Kathleen Wynne said the OLG already has clear anti-money laundering provisions.

"The minister has already spoken with OLG and it's certainly something given what has happened in British Columbia that we're paying close attention to," she added.

With files from Canadian Press

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