British Columbia’s Laundromat Casinos are Now Washing Less

For most of the late noughties British Columbia has been rocked by financial scandal following revelations that it’s casinos had become “laundromats for organized crime”.

Video footage of individuals wheeling suitcases and hockey bags stuffed with $20 bills into casinos which were exchanged for chips and later cashed-in for ‘clean cash’.  The damning images gave the game away and investigations showed a wholesale money clean-up operation was ongoing.

David Eby, British Columbia’s attorney general, said the industrial scale of money laundering was “just mind-boggling”. In a Guardian interview he declared. “The sheer volume and the size of these transactions on a regular basis in casinos is just astounding.”

Eby’s government introduced measures aimed at curbing the transnational scheme; demanding proof of a legitimate source for casino payments of more than C$10,000 and round-the-clock surveillance by regulators at high-risk establishments.

Bank Draft Warning

Consequently profits at casinos in British Colombia have nosedived and that’s despite claims that money laundering amongst the Chinese community in the province is still rife.

Just last week Canada’s anti-money laundering agency, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (aka Fintrac) directed casinos via an ‘operational alert’ to carefully watch customers who pay for their gaming with bank drafts – according to them casino money launderers have changed their methods, where the media’s focus on British Columbia’s dirty-cash scam has forced criminals to adopt new strategies.

Fintrac warned players who regularly use back drafts to buy chips or fund a gaming account may also be accompanied to a casino by someone who is subject to a gaming ban. Or they may live in a jurisdiction with “currency control restrictions,” such as China in short they are acting as ‘mules’.

The organisation declared mules commonly listed their occupations as ‘student,’ ‘housewife,” or ‘unemployed,’ and their bank accounts demonstrated ‘in-and-out activity’, with a high volume of cash deposits from various unknown sources, which were then used to purchase bank drafts payable to third parties or casinos.”

$14,000 Chinese Casino Gift Questioned

With this considered it is little wonder Vancouver International Airport detained 32-year-old Kamilla Fa and questioned her for 90 minutes last week. She was, after all bringing $14,000 of cash into the country wrapped in Las Vegas casino packaging.

Fa, who declared her questioning to be “humiliating”, told officials the $14,000 was winnings gifted to her from her Chinese national boyfriend, who she met up with in Las Vegas.

She was later released and returned home to her Richmond home with the cash.  Coincidentally Richmond is a city where over 50 percent of the population identify as Chinese and its River Rock Casino had been named as the epicentre of the province’s money-laundering scandal.


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