NEWS RELEASE · 8th January 2011
Ministry of Public Safety
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Rich Coleman made the following statement regarding transactions in British Columbia casinos.
"Given the recent media concerns related to integrity and security within BC Casinos, I want to assure British Columbians that I will be consulting with BC Lottery Corporation, the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, the police and other stakeholders to identify areas for improvement and will report out publicly by the end of February.
"In saying this, it is important to note that through GPEB, the province has been actively engaged with the RCMP's proceeds of crime section since last summer to identify areas of existing legislation that can be used to prevent organized crime organizations from laundering money in BC casinos.
"RCMP have indicated to me our casinos are fully compliant with all regulatory reporting requirements, however, the issue of whether or not a cash transaction should be reported as large or suspicious does deserve greater attention and we are prepared to do just that.
"We are also prepared to take steps to continue to enhance training so casino staff are better equipped to properly identify suspicious transactions and report them more quickly to police so that they can stop this type of criminal activity. This will include preventing patrons from redeeming casino chips from any facility other than where they were initially purchased.
"In stating my commitment to further strengthen security in our gaming operations, it is important to understand the facts about our efforts to combat money laundering and any other criminal behaviour in our gaming facilities.
"Play in B.C. casinos is not completely anonymous. It is our business to know who you are if you spend large amounts of money or make transactions that appear suspicious. For example, buying in for more than $10,000 over a 24-hour period triggers a process for casino staff to report the transaction. You have to give appropriate identification that will allow the casino to file a report, which includes the player's name, address and occupation. Should you refuse to provide this information, you cannot buy in.
"If there is any reason to be suspicious that the player's actions are related to money laundering, federal regulations require casinos to report the transaction within 30 days. Suspicious transaction reports are sent to FINTRAC, a federal agency, the provincial government's Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch and the RCMP's Integrated Proceeds of Crime Unit simultaneously so that each of these agencies receives the information at the same time - usually well within the 30-day reporting requirement. That being said, any incidents that appear to be criminal or that might jeopardize the safety and security of our players are immediately reported to police.
"The number of suspicious transaction reports filed by B.C. casinos has increased since 2009 for several reasons. First, the parameters for reporting suspicious financial transactions are broader so that even more behaviour that might potentially be illegal is reported. Second, we have improved the training of casino staff in anti-money laundering procedures. To date, 98 per cent have received this upgraded training and it has resulted in increased awareness of transactions that might be problematic. Finally, our casino service providers have noticed an increase in international visitors enjoying our province and spending larger amounts of money in our destination-style casinos.
"The B.C. Lottery Corporation and our casino industry are fully committed to supporting anti-money laundering initiatives and to complying with federal regulations. They remain dedicated to improving reporting policies and practices to better assist government agencies and police to combat money laundering.
"Maintaining integrity and security in B.C. casinos is our highest priority."