Vancouver Casino Take Dives as Crackdown Keeps High Rollers Away

(Bloomberg) -- Great Canadian Gaming Corp. reported a decline in money spent on chips at its casino tables in British Columbia as anti-money laundering rules curb high-stakes play.

Table drop in the western Canadian province fell 12 percent to C$283 million ($210 million) in the first quarter compared with the same period the previous year, the Richmond, British Columbia-based casino operator said in a statement Monday.

"VIP play is still down out here in B.C.," Rod Baker, the company’s chief executive officer, said on an investor call Monday. Since the rules were introduced in January 2018, business from table games -- such as baccarat and blackjack -- is "a little more stable" at River Rock casino, but the Hard Rock facility was "frankly much less broadly dispersed at the VIP level," he said.

A provincial crackdown on money laundering has caused turmoil at Vancouver-area casinos, which for years were known for accepting cash from gamblers, some arriving with suitcases and hockey bags bulging with bills. New rules implemented last year to more tightly identify sources of funds have put a damper on that roaring trade.

Great Canadian Gaming’s casinos aren’t the only ones feeling the effect of the tighter restrictions. Parq Vancouver, a luxury waterfront casino whose opening coincided almost exactly with the dirty money crackdown, missed an interest payment on a second-lien loan last week after business took off slower than expected.

Great Canadian fell as much as 8.6 percent, the most in two months, after reporting lower-than-expected profit margin at its Ontario business.

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