British Columbia Inquires Into Gambling-Related Money Laundering

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The Government in British Columbia has launched an investigation of its own into money laundering, possibly related to the gambling industry in the Canadian province that distorted the economy in the region.

Gambling, Cars And Properties

Gaming was one of the three spheres of business activities, along with real estates and luxury cars, that were highlighted in a recent report commissioned by the government in British Columbia, that led to an estimated CAD$5 billion being laundered for 2018 alone, raising the need for further evidence into the issue, alongside the total overhaul of the gambling laws planned for 2021.

Casinos were in focus in the report but for all the wrong reasons, as they allowed clients carrying large bags with huge amounts of cash inside without questioning them how the money was acquired in the first place, thus fueling the suspicion they participate in money laundering schemes.

The government undertook some steps to tackle the issue such as requiring those spending CAD$10,000 or more at casinos to verify their source of funds, but it expects the finding of the inquiry to provide clarity on the matter.

Commission Hearings

The Inquiry started with opening statements from the federal government, British Columbia Lottery Corporation /BCLC/ and British Columbia Real Estate Association in front of the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering on Monday, Feb 24, at the Federal Court of Canada in Vancouver, and main hearings to deal with gambling transactions on floors of the casinos, along with cash transactions for luxury goods and online trading of crypto currencies, scheduled for September and December.

BCLC expressed its determination to work with the authorities on the issue, pointing out the benefits of legal gambling in the province, as gaming operations bring in significant tax revenue that allow the government to support different social projects.

Lottery Corporation Measures

Despite certain anti-money laundering measures such as Know-Your-Customer /KYC/ processes that were designed to look for insight into players’ financial dealings and eventually identify potential risks were already in place, BCLC believes money laundering is a complex issue that goes beyond national borders and usually involves organized crime.

The lottery corporation outlined its ongoing efforts to clamp down on such issue by conducting regular casino staff trainings, along with operating its own anti-money laundering unit, but at the end of the day, money laundering is not gambling-related only and therefore, calls for broad industry solutions, with a cross-sector and cross-jurisdictional approach.

Regarding prevention of money laundering, BCLC emphasized that a single entity cannot cope with the issue and coordinated efforts in monitoring, investigation and taking action against such criminal activities need to take place.

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