Criminals to be banned from casinos, says Quebec

Gamblers who engage in criminal activity are no longer welcome in casinos and gaming rooms, Quebec announced when releasing a report from an external auditing firm Friday.

Finance Minister Eric Girard announced in late November that an "independent audit" would be conducted into organized crime members using the Montreal casino, following media reports that some of them were being treated very well.

Quebec says it will evaluate the recommendations and implement those that are accepted. However, it confirmed that some "proposed controls" will be put in place "to apply best practices in this area."

According to the minister, the report "confirms that the procedures in place at Loto-Quebec are solid" and adds that "the allegations" reported in the media are "clearly related to past events and do not reflect the current situation."

Still, the Deloitte firm stated that its mandate was not to "shed light" on past events or incidents and lists no less than 39 recommendations.

Quebec said it "endorses" the recommendations to adopt a policy or process to suspend players with a high-risk profile and to cancel membership in the casino loyalty program and the points accumulated by players excluded from the establishments.

It also intends to implement recommendations to increase Loto-Quebec's powers to conduct stricter checks on the identity of players and the source of funds.

Quebec also agreed to strengthen information-sharing mechanisms between Loto-Quebec and police forces on "money laundering schemes, typologies and techniques, specific individuals and organized crime groups, and specific modes of operation."

In a news release, Loto-Quebec said it was "pleased" to note that several recommendations are in place or in the process of being implemented, including the automation of systems to target "questionable" practices.

The Crown corporation said that it is "constantly on the lookout for best practices in the fight against money laundering" and notes that organized crime is "always refining its methods."

Both the government and Loto-Quebec point out that the report shows the auditor concluded that the dealers he spoke to did not feel intimidated or coerced into allowing a player to win because of their links to members of organized crime groups.

The external auditor's mandate was to look into money laundering, loan sharking, loyalty programs and measures in place to ensure employee independence.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 18, 2021.