Thursday, May 22, 2008

Canadian Casinos Cleaning Cash?

The casino situation in British Columbia is fucking depressing. Over the past few decades we’ve been apathetic enough to allow them to become an integral component of our social and public service system. Anyone who has ever worked a bingo for their swim club or bussed trays for baseball understands the dynamic well. Gambling takes advantage of the most vulnerable among us, reaps (or rapes) a great profit, and trickles a little down the line to the organizations in need.

Yet we’re all so placid that only the few and the brave (we like to call them radicals or agitators) among us say anything outside of our own four walls, except for maybe when we’re in Starbucks’ four walls and we want to sound all progressive and shit.

Now, after years of wrangling with FOI requests and some great undercover work the CBC has shed some light into the dark corner we knew was there all along.

As part of the investigation, CBC reporters exchanged thousands of dollars in bills of $20 and $100 for cheques from the casino, demonstrating how criminals could use the gambling operations to hide illegal revenues.Documents obtained by the CBC also showed casino workers routinely observed dozens of suspicious financial transactions each year, but only a fraction were reported to the federal agency that tracks money laundering.

Premier awaits review of casino allegations

So not only is our system so bent that we rely on gamblers to keep our organizations running, but we’ve set ourselves up with a beautifully handy cleaning system.




I’m really bent out of shape about this. It follows the all-too-common theme of negligence when it comes to the oversight of risky business.

What kind of person turns down money because they suspect it’s of illegal or questionable origin? Are they the same kind of people who run gaming houses and casinos? Is it the low-wage earners working the front counter who may risk their jobs or their personal safety by reporting their suspicions? Can anyone honestly answer yes to those questions?

Relying on those who stand to profit the most to regulate themselves is bunk. It’s bunk when it comes to industry, it’s doubly bunk when it comes to policing in casinos and gaming centres.

We’d still be in this mess even if we had reliable funding for public programs and services, but we’d be able to deal with the issues in a way that doesn’t cripple our communities that now rely on gambling as a source of income. As it is, whatever losses BC’s casinos may take will surely affect more than those responsible. From the province, to our cities, to our clubs and charities that are most in need.


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