Fact checked by Wilbur Thompson.
Recently, it was reported that a large number of suspicious cash transactions had been handled by Ontario casinos in 2022, which had raised concerns among critics. It was later reported that a provincial government watchdog would review the casinos’ actions as they had accepted the cash without confirming the source of the money, contrary to provincial rules.
It should be noted that in 2022, Ontario introduced new standards requiring casinos to ascertain and reasonably verify a patron’s source of funds. This measure was implemented to combat money laundering activities as it is common for criminals to try and launder their illegally acquired money by playing with it at casino properties.
After a patron, Branavan Kanapathipillai, made large cash buy-ins across Ontario casinos over the last few years, staff at Pickering Casino Resort noticed and reported it. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) released a statement saying that its Anti-Money Laundering Unit would conduct a compliance review to assess if casino operators had met regulatory requirements under the Registrar’s Standards. The review would also consider rules for implementing source of funds checks.
According to police officers who filed an application in a Newmarket Superior Court, Mr. Kanapathipillai showed up with CA$ 80,000 in cash separated in bundles with elastics at Casino Rama in December 2016. He claimed he received the money that way from Fallsview Casino Resort. However, Fallsview Casino Resort disclosed that he had deposited cash and then withdrew funds from his account, which was unusual for his gaming activity. In another instance, he collected CA$1,529,700 in large transactions and CA$1,348,115 in disbursements at One Toronto Gaming in September 2022, and it was noted in the report that it might be a third-party source of funds.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is responsible for regulating gambling operations across the province. AGCO also ensures that sites comply with standards in the public interest. Its new standards were implemented in January 2022, but the volume of suspicious cash transactions throughout the year was approximately CA$372 million, a massive increase from previous years.
Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk also examined casinos and their anti-money laundering protocols. She revealed in her annual report that she had hired mystery shoppers for a sting operation at four Ontario casinos to test each casino’s anti-money laundering protocols and how easy it was to launder money through gambling.
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