Ontario regulator fines Ottawa Casino for multiple violations

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Because money laundering by casinos has been a hot topic in Canada lately, the Ontario Gaming Authority imposed a sizeable fine on a casino in the province.

Last Wednesday, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Canada fines imposed totaling $227,250 (CAD) to HR Ottawa LP, responsible for day-to-day operations of Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation’s slot machines at Rideau Carleton Raceway in Ottawa, for 36 violations resulting from an audit. HR Ottawa LP is owned by Hard Rock International.

AGCO found that the venue failed to comply Gambling Registrar Standardsresulting in a stiff fine.

Among the 36 violations found during the AGCO audit, HR Ottawa LP is alleged to have committed:

  • Providing promotional and marketing materials to individuals who have self-excluded from gambling activities.
  • Repeated failure to implement, follow and enforce required anti-money laundering policies and procedures.
  • Failed to address concerns identified by internal auditors in a timely manner.
  • Maintaining a compliance oversight function that was not independent of the company’s operations as required.
  • Not adequately protecting gaming systems and data from security breaches in accordance with best industry and technology practices.
  • There was a failure to ensure that employees received the required training in key areas such as anti-money laundering policies and procedures.

“AGCO has a mandate and responsibility to ensure casinos operate honestly, with integrity and in the public interest. These penalties are intended to drive improvements needed at Rideau Carleton Casino and we will be closely monitoring the casino’s activities to ensure these significant audit findings are taken into account,” said Tom Mungham, AGCO CEO and Registrar, in the press release.

HR Ottawa LP has the right to appeal the results of the audit.

Rideau Carleton Casino CEO Helen MacMillan said CTV News Ottawa said the “majority of issues” related to the exam have been “aggressively corrected.”

Rideau Carleton Casino is Ottawa’s only casino and features more than 1,200 slot machines and electronic table games in addition to live horse racing.

Other AGCO fines and Canadian money laundering issues

There appears to be an aggressive crackdown on money laundering problems in Canada, after the province of British Columbia released a 1,800-page report in June confirming that a “staggering amount of dirty money” was laundered through BC casinos between 2008 and 2018.

Commissioner Austin Cullen made 101 recommendations as part of the report, which found that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, local government officials and FINTRAC – Canada’s national financial intelligence agency – were all responsible for money laundering in provincial casinos.

In an email release, the Canadian Gaming Association, a national trade organization representing leading operators and suppliers in Canada’s gaming, sports betting, e-sports and lottery industries, thanked Cullen for his detailed report and recommendations and reiterated their commitment of the organization for “rigorous regulatory oversight”.

“The Canadian gaming industry is committed to working with all federal and provincial stakeholders and policy makers to further enhance our comprehensive and effective AML regime in Canada, leverage technological advances and leverage payment technology to enable a safe gaming environment .”

A few weeks later, the RCMP uncovered another money laundering scheme at casinos in the Toronto and Niagara areas. Police filed multiple criminal charges against five people after the four-year investigation concluded that more than $3 million (CAD) was laundered from the illegal sale of cannabis.

AGCO has also been busy penalizing online gambling operators since the launch of the regulated iGaming and sports betting market on April 4th. BetMGM, PointsBet and DraftKings did fined by the regulator for violations related to advertising and inducements.

Photo: Shutterstock

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