British Columbia (B.C.) has been embroiled in a casino money-laundering scandal that dates back several years, but which doesn’t seem to have a permanent solution. Attempts have been made to try and prevent gamblers from switching duffel bags full of small- and large-denomination bills for gambling chips, but those efforts have not completely eradicated the problem. Now, one Canadian city thinks it has the perfect solution and is lobbying for the main component of the problem to be removed completely. Council members in the city of Delta want casinos to go cashless.
In a report published by the Cloverdale Reporter, the media outlet points out that Delta Mayor George Harvie is leading the charge, using cashless casinos as part of his political campaign when he was running for mayor. Harvie pointed out that New Zealand’s cashless, card-based system has proven to be a success.
According to a Delta spokesperson, “Cashless systems require an account that is linked to the individual player whose identity has been verified. This means that gambling data can be tracked and money transactions are transparent, thereby limiting opportunities for crime such as money laundering. Funds can be moved electronically between the account and all gaming devices in the casino.”
Last June, a report commissioned by B.C. Attorney General David Eby showed that casinos in the province had become a “laundromat for the proceeds of crime” because of underground banks that maintained ties with organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorism. The report had been sought following the revelation that the River Rock Casino in Vancouver had uncontrolled money-laundering activity.
Banks had been facilitating deposits by criminals who were, in return, receiving payments through Chinese bank accounts. That cash would then be lent to Chinese gamblers who took advantage of the almost non-existent anti-money-laundering policies in B.C. to pass the cash through casinos with virtually no questions asked.
Delta currently isn’t home to any casinos, but this is going to change soon. The city was approved in November of last year to allow a casino license, which will be used for Gateway Casinos to build the Cascades Casino in the city. Its location is creating the impetus for the cashless system—River Rock is only 10 miles away and city officials are concerned that the money-laundering activity could make its way to the Cascades.