British Columbia Targets Asian VIP Gamblers

The Canadian province of British Columbia has been keeping a close watch on its multi-billion dollar gambling industry as there have been multiple allegations that money launders were using casinos in B.C to wash their money.

The allegations surround VIP gamblers from Asia and high-rollers who are suspected of having links to the province’s runaway housing market.

These suspicions were raised during the rule of the Liberal government which then commissioned an internal governmental review of the B.C casino industry. The Liberal government lost power and now the ruling NDP government has published details of the internal review which confirms that large cash transactions were taking place inside the casinos.

The report put forward two key recommendations. The first was to make gamblers engaging in high value transactions reveal their identity and source of funds. The second was to have the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, the gaming regulator to tighten its regulations on B.C casinos.

The gaming regulator has now made it mandatory for gamblers carrying out transactions over C$10,000 to provide identification proof, banking information and the source of their funds to the casinos. If the same customer carries out a second high value transaction, the gaming regulator will raise the level of scrutiny into the customer’s identity and background.

The regulator has also confirmed that it will place a minimum of one employee at each casino. The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch are looking to hire more employees to carry out this task and are on the lookout for candidates who can speak Mandarin. This move will increase vigilance at B.C casinos and push casinos to ensure they comply with anti-money laundering requirements.

In a statement, David Eby, British Columbia Attorney General said

Our government has made clear the urgency around addressing issues of money-laundering at B.C. casinos, and we will ensure these first two recommendations are not only implemented as soon as possible, but enforced on the ground

The gambling industry in B.C generated C$2.9 billion in 2014-2015 and that’s not counting revenue from horseracing. The government is aware that these stringent regulations could scare away VIP gamblers from the province’s casinos and as a result cause a significant decline in gambling revenue. However, the government decided to proceed because it wants to ensure that B.C. residents have full confidence that money laundering and financial criminal activity is not taking place at B.C’s casinos.