GCG’s bid for Toronto Casinos will not be affected in Ontario, despite review of casino money laundering in BC.
Allegations of money laundering through BC casinos – particularly the River Rock Casino – have been rampant. Over the summer, British Columbia’s new NDP government uncovered what it believes to be years of unchecked, “undocumented” money laundering. Officials in Ontario aren’t concerned.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp (OLG) has been seeking a private corporation to manage the day-to-day operations of its casinos in Toronto and surrounding areas. Great Canadian Gaming (GCG) won the bid to take over those gambling properties, but its managerial duties have yet to begin.
GCG In Center of BC Casinos Scandal
GCG was an easy choice for the OLG, having already taken over casinos in Eastern Ontario. However, before the ink dried on its new contract with GCG to take over operations in the Greater Toronto Area, all hell broke loose in British Columbia.
Several BC casinos have been accused of failing to prevent what certainly appears to be a cut-and-dry case of exorbitant money laundering. At the center of the scandal is River Rock Casino in Richmond, BC. That casino happens to be under the management of – you guessed it – Great Canadian Gaming.
Following a probe into casino money laundering in BC, Ontario officials deemed it necessary to conduct a review of GCG’s role in the allegations. The review is being conducted by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
GCG Still the Choice for Toronto Casinos Bundle
On Wednesday, it was confirmed that, despite the ongoing review, GCG’s contract to take over casinos in Toronto won’t be suspended. Ontario’s Finance Minister Charles Sousa told The Globe and Mail that the review is nothing more than “routine”, and that he sees no reason why GCG should be ostracized in Ontario.
Mr. Sousa said that the AGCO is working with BC law enforcement agencies in conducting its review, and that he fully supports Ontario’s regulators in taking this action. “When AGCO receives any concerns or any indications that they should investigate and review those activities, I think it’s appropriate,” he said.
Sousa added that suspending the deal with GCG is not warranted at this time. “There is no indication of anything that’s been untoward in the province of Ontario,” he said.
“I’m not about to defame a public company that’s operating effectively in Canada,” he continued. “I’m more concerned with public good and public safety.”
Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General for Ontario, agrees with Sousa’s interpretation. He finds no reason to raise the alarm due to the AGCO review.
“There is no evidence whatsoever that any rules are being violated in Ontario,” Mr. Naqvi said.
“To our knowledge our company is not under investigation in any jurisdiction,” said GCG COO Terrance Doyle. That came in response to an email inquiry from The Globe and Mail on Tuesday.
Over the last few days, Mr. Sousa has spoken directly with BC Finance Minister Carole James on the matter. He said that Ms. James exalted the regulatory system in Ontario, and confirmed that they are working to emulate that model in BC.