BC gaming funds marked for charity diverted into private hands

TAGs: BCLC, British Columbia Lottery Corporation, money laundering

Here at, we like to occasionally remind people of the flawed reporting/mad ravings of Vancouver tabloid hack David Baines. For those unfamiliar with Baines’ work, the man hates gambling. Hates it. Thinks it’s full of evil and untrustworthy ‘rogue operators’ who’d like nothing better than to steal your money, wait for your inevitable suicide than skull fuck your still warm corpse in front of your weeping children.

However, there’s an exception to every rule, and the one form of gambling that Baines will tolerate is the state-run kind. They’re the government, you see, elected by the people and all that, and therefore their fleece is white as snow. This spirit of openness must be why Canada was ranked dead last in a recent study of parliamentary democracies and their commitment to Freedom of Information requests.

british columbia lottery corporationHowever, when those FOI requests are reluctantly granted, they often turn up things that run contrary to Baines’ worldview. Such as the fact that British Columbia’s state-licensed casinos are facilitating money laundering, and the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) wasn’t immediately notifying the police about it. Next we learned that the $400m in subsidies, sorry, ‘facility development commissions’ (FDC) that BCLC was kicking back to its casino operators were being paid for by simultaneous reductions in government grants to charities.

You remember charities, the organizations that were supposed to be one of the chief beneficiaries of BC’s gambling expansion? Since 1999, their government funding has plunged from 1/3 of gaming revenues to just 10%. In 2009-10, their funding dropped by $44m, while casino operators received $40m in FDC payments. Coincidence?

After days of strict radio silence while BCLC waited to see whether the money laundering story had ‘legs’, the provincial gaming minister announced that they’ve decided to launch an investigation. Gosh, thanks. Mighty good of you to, you know, investigate law breaking and all. Must be why Margaret Beare, professor of law at York University, told the same paper that David Baines writes for that BC’s gaming body has “no reason to give a damn. Like everyone else, they’re in the business to make money.”

And that’s the point that Baines can’t seem to grasp. Having BCLC simultaneously promote, regulate and investigate itself is like asking Goldman Sachs to render a verdict on its behavior during the subprime mortgage meltdown. (Two thumbs up!) State-run gambling operations simply don’t provide the consumer value that comes from having a proper arms-length regulator overseeing a casino sector.

If Baines is truly sincere in his desire to see consumers protected, he need look no further than the center of the iGaming universe, London. The UK is the gold standard of a correctly regulated, free market casino sector, but Kahnawake, the Philippines and Antigua are also far ahead of Canada in this regard.


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