British Columbia Says Revenue to Fall as It Tackles Dirty Money

(Bloomberg) -- British Columbia is projecting a C$30 million ($23 million) drop in gambling revenue as the government cracks down on money laundering at Vancouver-area casinos where high-rollers dropped as much as C$500,000 for a single buy-in.

"It’s hard to put a price on restoring our international reputation," David Eby, the Canadian province’s attorney general, said in a statement Friday. "It’s both hypocritical and self-defeating to spend public money fighting gang crime on one hand, while pocketing the proceeds of gang crime at casinos with the other hand."

Premier John Horgan’s New Democratic Party-led government began investigating casinos late last year, several months after taking power and discovering a July 2016 report suppressed by its Liberal Party predecessors that indicated large amounts of suspicious cash was flowing through the River Rock Casino Resort south of Vancouver. Among the report’s findings were that the facility accepted C$13.5 million in C$20 bills in just a one month period, while clients referred to as “high roller Asian VIPs” would drop single cash buy-ins of more than C$500,000 at gaming tables without disclosing the source of funds.

Chinese Cash Bets Put Vancouver Casino in Laundering Probe

The projected drop in revenue for the government-owned B.C. Lottery Corporation was based on estimates of the impact of new restrictions preventing patrons from buying more than C$10,000 in playing chips with cash. The BCLC has 15 casinos in the province that are operated by private-sector companies; last year, the government corporation was paid 60 percent of table winnings at the River Rock Casino, according to the annual report of Great Canadian Gaming Corp., operator of that facility.

The government has hired Peter German, a lawyer and former deputy police commissioner, to head an independent anti-money laundering investigation. German is due to deliver his report before March 31, according to the statement.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.