Casino operator Great Canadian Gaming Corp has been hit with allegations of undisclosed Asian investment in an old casino cruise ship that could result in a new investigation by British Columbia gaming regulators.
On Tuesday, the Global News agency published a lengthy article detailing Great Canadian’s former involvement in China Sea Discovery (pictured), a Hong Kong-based floating casino operation that appears to have been partially owned by Cheng Yu Tung, the late head of the Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) conglomerate.
Already reeling from the lengthy probe into rampant money laundering by Asian crime groups at BC casinos – in particular the Great Canadian-run River Rock Casino in Richmond – the allegations of undisclosed partnerships with questionable individuals could prompt a fresh investigation by the province’s Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch.
The office of BC Attorney General David Eby told Global that Cheng Yu Tung wasn’t registered to partner with Great Canadian, despite regulations requiring BC-licensed gaming operators to list all significant investors – even in operations based outside of BC – so that they can be vetted for suitability.
Cheng’s historic connections to Macau casino icon Stanley Ho – Cheng held a 10% stake in STDM, the parent company of Macau’s original casino operator SJM Holdings – were cited in 2016 as objections to CTFE acquiring ownership of the troubled Baha Mar resort casino in the Bahamas (but didn’t ultimately prevent CTFE from taking ownership).
DON’T ARGUE WITH MR Y
Great Canadian provided a statement to Global that avoided specifics, focusing instead on the company’s claim that it was only a minority partner in China Sea Discovery and only for a limited time. The company also said it would be a “disservice” to rely on “the comments of former Great Canadian employees or innuendo.”
According to Global, Great Canadian’s Asian cruise casino experiment ended in 2001 after only about a year. Great Canadian’s current head of international VIP gaming Walter Soo ran the China Sea Discovery’s gaming operations on behalf of Great Canadian.
Global’s report quotes former Great Canadian security supervisor Proka Avramovic saying that the casino cruise operation served as BC’s introduction to China’s VIP gambling model, including its junket operators and loan sharks.
Avramovic related an alleged incident in which an alleged triad figure identified only as Mr. Y and his armed entourage took control of the China Sea Discovery vessel at its berth on the Chinese island of Hainan. Mr. Y reportedly held the vessel hostage until he received a $900k check from Great Canadian, which Mr. Y maintained was repayment of his investment.
In what will come as no surprise, Avramovic told Global that when he returned from his cruise ship escapades, he approached BC’s then-Liberal government to relay his concerns about apparent triad and loan shark activity in BC’s gaming industry, only to be told to forget it.
This would be the same Liberal government that buried a damning report on money laundering at BC casinos and shut down a gaming investigative body when it persisted in asking the wrong questions regarding financial oversight at BC casinos.