Ontario Casinos Subject to Money Laundering Task Force
Officials in Ontario have launched a new money laundering task force as casinos reopen.
Money laundering is a constant issue among casinos around the world. Because casino venues handle a large amount of cash on a daily basis, the properties require strict anti-money laundering controls to avoid any major problems. However, issues still occur. In Canada, casinos have been closed down for quite some time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many properties in Ontario reopened this past weekend and officials have created a new money laundering task force to avoid any such schemes from taking place.
New Task Force
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) created the task force so there are people in place to monitor cash transactions that take place onsite. The decision comes a full year after financial authorities in the country revealed that there have been significant drop-offs in casino disbursement and reports of large cash transactions.
A report from last year by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada states that the pandemic resulted in closures and physical distancing measures that have disrupted the actions of money launderers. It seems to have seriously hindered those who rely on placing cash into cash-intensive businesses like casinos.
The AGCO will work with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming organization as well as the Provincial Police to ensure that cash transactions at casinos are monitored correctly. OLG director of anti-money laundering, Ian Messenger, stated that there is no place for money laundering in the gaming industry of Ontario.
Officials want to see patrons return to gaming as normal in provinces such as Ontario and monitoring will be in place from the very beginning to ensure that any suspected illicit cash transactions will be caught in action.
Over the years, the number of suspicious transactions involving casinos in Ontario seems to have increased a great deal. Going back to 2015, only 134 transactions were reported as involving money laundering. Fast forward to 2018 and there were over 2,200 cases.
Back to Work
For casinos across Canada, it’s time to get back to work. In Ontario, this past Friday was the first day that venues could reopen as the province entered Step 3 of the reopening plan. The Great Canadian Gaming Corp. is one company in the region that is operational once again, which helps thousands of people get back to work.
In the Step 3 phase, regulations in Ontario allow casinos to reopen at 50% capacity. Gateway Casinos and Entertainment also reopened its 11 venues. The casinos are open 24/7 and players can now enjoy the same great services as were available pre-pandemic.
Gateway was excited to reopen casinos and community gaming centers in the province. Employees and valued customers have been welcomed back with open arms, for safe gaming and dining options. Gateway opened all of its venues except for Casino Rama, which will be back open on July 29.
Several other casinos have also decided to open a little later than allowed. This coming week, there will be three venues that open up; Caesars Windsor, Fallsview Casino Resort, and Casino Niagara. Caesars Windsor is the largest casino resort in Canada and it will be back in service by July 23. Players will not need a reservation to play but they do need to register at the casino before going inside.
The other two casinos have plans to open on the same day and will provide invitation-only events this coming Wednesday and Thursday. Only slot games will be on offer at first, with table games put on hold. It is unclear as to when the table games will be up and running.