Ontario’s Opposition is calling on the government to halt a deal with a gaming company that is facing money laundering allegations in British Columbia.
The B.C. government has launched an independent expert’s review of the province’s policies in the gambling industry after concerns were raised about the possibility of money laundering at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, B.C.
The attorney general in that province has said he launched the probe after reading a report about the casino accepting $13.5 million in $20 bills in July 2015 that police said could be proceeds of crime involving Asian VIP clients.
The casino is run by Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. selected in August – along with Brookfield Business Partners LP – to run facilities at Woodbine, slots at Ajax Downs and the Great Blue Heron Casino in the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said the province is closely watching the investigation in B.C.
“The OLG has anti-money laundering provisions in place. They have got pretty firm, very firm, expectations and rules in place on all of those issues. But the minister has already spoken with OLG and it’s certainly something, given what has happened in British Columbia, that we’re paying close attention to,” Wynne told reporters on Monday.
Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa cast a shadow on the Opposition’s claims.
“The Minister, myself, does not pick a proponent that would be totally inappropriate. But the ongoing discussions with the British Columbia authorities has been ongoing with AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario),” Sousa said at Queen’s Park.
“It’s my understand that there is no investigation of the proponent and the Opposition are inferring criminality, but that is not the case, so I am allowing the process to proceed.”
Great Canadian Gaming has said it has procedures to ensure regulatory compliance are strictly followed, and it is committed to preventing illegal activities at all of its locations.
OLG notes that Great Canadian is not under a criminal or regulatory investigation in either province and is satisfied the company will operate the Greater Toronto Area facilities responsibly.