River Rock Casino has found itself wrapped up in stories of corruption once again. The land-based casino, located in British Columbia and also quite popular country-wide, was caught out in September 2017 for laundering money. Regulations put in place soon after this event were meant to deal with the extent of the corruption. And for a while – River Rock Casino managed to stay out of the news successfully.
However, this seems to have changed only last week. An Australian highroller was arrested on the premises of the casino on the charge of money laundering. You have to ask yourself – is it just River Rock Casino, or is that Canadian casinos are extremely corrupt in general?
River Rock Casino, September 2017 Scandal
The news first came out September of last year that River Rock Casino was being accused of money laundering. Who was the accuser? The federal government.
The scandal broke after a publicly funded report, first published in 2016 but consequently buried by the provincial government, was released by the Attorney General – David Eby. Eby was also put on the case to find out who and why the report was initially buried. Our guess is – surprise – yet more corruption. Money talks.
In the report, it was revealed how the casino would allow $500,000 cash buy-ins without requesting any documentation from the punters. Documentation which would reflect the paper trail and history of the cash itself.
Legally speaking, casinos are required to report all cash transactions above the sum of $10,000. And, while it's true that River Rock reported 1,194 of these incidents, it reported 1,194 out of 40,000 recorded transactions of this nature. Add to this the fact that the land casino is known for catering to Chinese high-rollers, and you have yourself a case of what is highly likely to be money laundering.
Follow-Up, December 2017
The provincial government of BC launched an extensive review of all AML policies (anti-money laundering) in land casinos. The government also required all land casinos within the state to sign a new operational service agreement.
At the time, BCLC President and CEO Jim Lightbody was quoted as saying:
The gambling market has evolved significantly since BCLC first took on the role of managing casinos in 1997,” continuing that, “The new OSA sets the course for the long-term success of the industry in B.C. by working with service providers to create and commit to an investment plan and hold service providers accountable for those plans and for maintaining the security and integrity of gambling.
So, despite the extent of the money scandal, the government was swift in taking action to both explain the incident and prevent anything similar happening again.
Australian Highroller Arrested, May 2018
Last week, the Vancouver Sun reported on a new case of money laundering at River Rock Casino. An Australian highroller of Chinese origin, Dan Bai Shun Jin, who was deported from the country last Tuesday, was still in B.C. Not only that, he was there to launder money at River Rock. Something that he'd been doing on an international scale, by being given money by third parties to gamble away.
The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) used a search warrant to investigate the highrollers' room at the casino. The Mounties found documents pointing to Jin's dealings with money laundering. They arrested Jin on May 25th at River Rock, while he was playing baccarat with chips worth $75,000 and more cash on him. River Rock surveillance team assisted the RCMP in the arrest, along with the Canada Border Services Agency and B.C's Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.
Today, June 2018
Postmedia released official documents that reflect that $650 million in questionable transactions were tied up with B.C casinos. This as recorded between the years 2010 and 2016. Two-thirds of this cash was, once again, in $20 bills. $20 bills are often associated with their use in the drug world when it comes to money laundering.
It should be commended that River Rock surveillance were cooperative with the RCMP in the arrest. However, given that the police had significant proof of Jin's money laundering habits even in the international scene, the casino could probably do little else than hand the man over.
Although it seems that B.C casinos, one of the areas with the most land casinos, are indeed extremely corrupt – it would be inaccurate to say they are the ‘most' corrupt. Indeed, the activist Elizabeth Pisani says that casinos come hand in hand with corruption. Las Vegas is stocked up with casinos, and there's no telling what goes on on the underbelly of the city.
One thing's certain, however. Land casinos will not soon be ‘cleaned up' of their corruption. In fact, it's highly unlikely it will ever happen at all.
Nowadays, it's better to stick to online casinos. Although it might be seem like it, these casinos are more tightly regulated than land casinos. Plus – there's such a community of online gamblers that it's unlikely an online casino would ever get away with fraud or corruption.
Are Canadian casinos the most corrupt in the world? Probably not.
Will land-based casinos always be corrupt? Probably yes.
You know what you have to do: go online.