Casino operators tell B.C. money laundering public inquiry they followed money rules

Commissioner Austin Cullen looks over the hearing room before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver, on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Lawyers for British Columbia's largest gaming companies say compliance with provincial regulations to combat money laundering is and always has been a top priority at provincial casinos.

In final submissions at B.C.'s public inquiry into money laundering, lawyers representing Great Canadian Casino Company and Gateway Casinos and Entertainment say their clients consistently met obligations to report the appearance of suspicious cash.

Great Canadian Casino lawyer Mark Skwarok told Commissioner Austin Cullen that the company went beyond its reporting obligations to the Crown-owned B.C. Lottery Corporation, including installing a surveillance system that extended to parking areas near the River Rock casino in Richmond, B.C.

Videos showing people carrying large bags full of cash at the casino were cited as examples of suspicious activity with likely links to organized crime and money laundering ahead of the provincial government's decision in 2019 to launch the public inquiry.

Lawyer David Gruber, representing Gateway Casinos, told the inquiry that it's a myth that large cash transactions are casino money makers because data shows the high-limit tables are not important revenue drivers.

The inquiry has heard testimony over the past year that investigators raised concerns more than a decade ago with gaming and government officials about increasing amounts of suspicious cash at Vancouver-area casinos.