Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'll be back in a bit, just stepping out to do some laundry...

There are signs that British Columbia's provincially operated gambling emporiums may be proving to be an attractive place to do your laundry, money laundering that is...

The revelations for British Columbia follow a recent story out of Ontario which found that casinos in that province were routinely being used to cleanse the profits of organized crime, a situation that seemed to pit the pit boss (all be it computerized) overseers up against the province's police agencies, suggesting that they mind their own business.

The CBC examined the state of this province's gambling centres and found that: Documents show casino workers routinely observe dozens of suspicious financial transactions each year, but only a fraction are reported to the federal agency that tracks money laundering.

The process it seems is rather simple, gamblers feed thousands of dollars in $20 bills into slot machines and cash out after playing only once or twice, walking away with a casino cheque for the remaining amount. As long as they keep their take under the mandatory reporting point of 10,000 dollars they're good to go.
Those with proceeds of ill intent in their wallets, can walk out the doors having paid out an insignificant little tax of around forty to sixty dollars (the cost of their slot losses) on those ill gotten gains, while the province we guess inadvertently gets a cut of their action through handling fees (ie the initial investment of the laundry crew).

The CBC found from documents compiled in 2003 that of the 49 suspected cases of unusual activity reported in that year at BC casinos, only nine were reported to FINTRAC, the federal organization tasked with investigating reports of potential illegality in the gambling industry.

One suspects that as the process became more refined over the last number of years that those numbers are probably on the low side, especially when you consider the increase in the illegal drug industry over the last few years and the proliferation of casinos and gambling centres in the province during that period of time as well.

With the Liberal government of BC currently engaged in a process of expanded and fast tracked gaming centre expansion across the province, many are calling for a much more stringent method of accountability and enforcement of the process involved in safeguarding the system.

Considering the lack of enforcement and accountability in the process so far, it's proving to be a fairly handy little ATM for those that can't use the more traditional methods of banking, steeped in their arcane rules of reporting and oversight...

Back in the old days before government involvement in the gambling industry, it was suspected that organized crime ran the show and benefited handsomely, now it seems that in some instances they're just availing themselves of a government service.

Forty bucks for a government endorsed sanitizing program seems like small overhead for those that are inclined to make their money from illegal sources.

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