BC casinos’ table revenue slides on new money laundering rules


british-columbia-casinos-table-game-money-launderingBritish Columbia’s gambling monopoly saw its casino table game revenue tumble in its latest annual report after the provincial government tightened its anti-money laundering (AML) policies.

On Friday, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) reported total revenue of C$2.59b (US$1.98b) in the 12 months ending March 31, 2019, a 3.5% rise over the 2017-18 fiscal year’s result. The Crown corporation’s net income nudged up 1% to C$1.41b.

Sharp-eyed readers will note that BCLC reported revenue of C$3.27b in 2017-18, but BCLC has undergone some accounting changes, which forced it to restate its 2017-18 figures. The province of Quebec recently had to revise its 2017-18 gambling stats due to its own accounting change.

Using these adjusted figures, revenue from BCLC’s land-based casinos – which are owned by the province but managed by private companies – was essentially flat at C$1.9b. Slot machine revenue improved 2.6% to C$1.4b but table games were down 7.8% to C$454m.

BC’s casinos were subjected to stricter AML and source of funds requirements following a litany of damning reports regarding lax oversight of Asian VIP gamblers walking into local casinos – particularly the River Rock Casino Resort in Vancouver – bearing sacks of $20 bills of dubious origin.

Earlier this month, BCLC’s chief compliance officer Robert Kroeker abruptly resigned without much of an explanation for his hasty exit. Global News later reported that Kroeker was the subject of a complaint by a whistleblower who alleged that Kroeker “instructed [his staff] to ease up on the BCLC cash conditions on players and slow down the process of targeting suspicious buy-ins.”

Before joining BCLC, Kroeker was the compliance chief for Great Canadian Gaming Corp, which manages River Rock’s casino operations. After public outcry grew over the casino scandals, the provincial government – of which BCLC is a part – announced plans for a public inquiry into the money laundering debacle. The inquiry is expected to get underway this fall.

As for BCLC’s online gambling operation PlayNow.com, the site reported revenue of C$149.8m in 2018-19, nearly C$30m more than the (restated) C$119.9m the site earned in 2017-18.

BCLC says PlayNow.com benefited from “strong player participation” at its Evolution Gaming-powered live casino offering, which launched late in the previous fiscal year and from increased availability of slots titles on PlayNow’s mobile channels.

Speaking of slots, a land-based slots jockey at the Treasure Cove Casino in Prince George won Canada’s largest ever slots jackpot on July 13. Marlyne Dumoulin, who says she was so blown away by her win that she has “bandages on my fingers from chewing my fingernails,” won the C$2.1m payday playing International Game Technology’s Powerbucks progressive jackpot.