Tag Archives: crime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Vancouver Not Vegas Calls for Reinstatement of Specialized Casino Police Unit

Photo via CBC
The Vancouver Not Vegas coalition calls for Premier Clark to reinstate the Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET), following revelations that suspicious transactions have more than doubled in casinos since 2011.

In 2009 the specialized casino police unit IIGET was disbanded weeks after it warned then Solicitor-General Rich Coleman that organized crime had infiltrated the gambling industry and was actively laundering money and loan sharking in casinos (see Appendix A).

By 2011 cash monitoring had deteriorated so severely that the BC Lottery Corporation was fined almost $700,000 by the federal agency FINTRAC for failure to control suspicious transactions at casinos.

“This is a complete systemic collapse of governance,” says Sandy Garossino, spokesperson for Vancouver Not Vegas. “There’s been no specialized policing presence in casinos for 5 years and organized crime has been brazenly active the whole time. BCLC has completely failed to control casino criminal activity.”

Vancouver Not Vegas renews its calls for former BCLC CEO Michael Graydon to be deemed unsuitable for employment with Paragon Gaming.  “Did Graydon know about this report when he jumped without warning from BCLC?” asks Garossino. “For at least 5 years Graydon knew organized crime was active in BC casinos, and completely failed to rein them in. Now he’s going to head a casino of his own?”

During the casino fight in 2011, 18 senior organized crime policing specialists submitted a letter which warned Vancouver City Council about rampant criminal activity of gangs and organized crime in casinos.
_______

Text media requests to:
Sandy Garossino 778-231-5230

See also:
Former Commander IIGET comments on casino oversight:
http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/004373.html
http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/004427.html
http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/004907.html

Appendix A:

Excerpted quotes from 2009 IIGET report on criminal activity in casinos (p 22):

“Canadian casinos are extremely vulnerable to money-laundering because they deal in cash and handle tens of millions of dollars every day.

Many investigations… have shown that members of organized crime use casinos for criminal purposes (e.g. loan sharking and money laundering) and that some of these criminal elements have successfully infiltrated the industry.

Since 2003 FINTRAC has sent several disclosure reports to the RCMP on suspicious transactions involving casinos… Anecdotally, police managers have suggested… nothing is being done to investigate these situations.”

(emphasis added)

Mani Amar: A Reckless Proposal & Profiteering For Criminals

A Reckless Proposal & Profiteering For Criminals
By Mani Amar

The amount of gang activity that occurs in Vancouver, our small but beautiful major city, rivals massive metropolitan areas across North America. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, & Chicago are well known throughout the world for gang activity, but another city has taken precedence on this list. Our city.

Vancouver generates billions of tax free dollars through its marijuana trade industry every year. Vancouver is geographically destined to be a major drug distribution hub. But instead of using resources to tackle such a drug issue, we are providing criminals with another reason to operate. Gambling.

Gambling, along with prohibited narcotics, alcohol, and prostitution have been historically the favourite industries for gangs to operate within. Gambling has an ominous aura; it attracts addictive personality peoples, it attracts organized crime, and it attracts violence. Gambling generates other dangerous criminal industries such as loan sharking and money laundering.

For a city that has been ravaged by violent crimes, a city with a drug industry with worldwide distribution, and a city with law enforcement resources stretched very thin, to even consider a mega casino expansion in a central location of the city is not only reckless, but simply stupid.

The very notion of PavCo bringing this proposal to Vancouver is based solely on greed. They do not care for our city, they do not care for our safety. They simply care about their own financial gain.

They bombard us with statistics of money, telling us that Vancouver will profit dearly from tax dollars and job creation. But they neglect to mention that lives will be damaged, government resources will be stretched further, our valuable tax dollars and the valuable tax dollars of our future generations will be used to salvage the socioeconomic downturn of our once beautiful, and more importantly, safe city.

I urge the council to consider the negative effects of this casino expansion. Consider all that will be lost, for this generation and our future.

This is nothing more than a reckless proposal and opportunity of profiteering for criminals. This is simply a situation where the cons outweigh the pros.

Edgewater mega-casino fact sheet

THE RAW FACTS ABOUT PARAGON GAMING’S PROPOSED EDGEWATER CASINO EXPANSION AT B.C. PLACE

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Connection with B.C. Place Stadium: direct link to stadium attendees, with a separated walkway directly to the casino from corporate suites.

Size of gambling space in the expanded Edgewater Casino: 2 football fields

Size of this casino compared to all casinos in western Canada: #1

Number of electronic slot machines in current Edgewater Casino: 520

Number of electronic slot machines in expanded Edgewater Casino: 1,500

Percentage of electronic slot revenues estimate to come from problem gamblers: 35%

Number of studies done in B.C. to determine the social, crime and financial costs of problem gamblers in this province: none

Cost of policing, addictions, suicides, fraud, courts related to problem gamblers using this casino: unknown

Estimated annual cost of a problem gambler from missed work, fraud, bankruptcies, receiverships, embezzlements: $13,200

ABOUT THE PROCESS

Date that B.C. Lottery Corporation chair Richard Turner buys shares in Paragon’s Alberta business: 2003

Date that Turner discloses that interest: 2005

Date that Turner resigns from BCLC board: late 2005

Date that Paragon Gaming purchases Edgewater Casino out of bankruptcy and installs Turner on the board of Paragon: summer 2006

Amount of donation by Richard Turner to B.C. Liberals while Paragon’s bid is awaiting a decision by Pavco in 2009: $50,000

Time between Pavco’s invitation to two short-listed companies responding to a request for expressions of interest in this $450-million project and its announcement of Paragon as the preferred proponent: less than 11 weeks

Normal time for big government projects to determine the best proponent, according to Partnerships B.C.: 12-16 months.

Number of minutes spent debating Edgewater’s expanded casino by Vancouver City Council: 0

ABOUT BROKEN PROMISES TO THE CITY OF VANCOUVER

Projected return of expanded Edgewater casino to City of Vancouver: $10 million in new revenue from gambling

Projected revenue to City of Vancouver from Edgewater’s original casino in 2004: $10-12-million in new revenues

Actual annual return of Edgewater Casino to City of Vancouver over the past two years: $6.3 million

Promise to arts groups and charities in 2004: increased funding
What charities got in 2010: 14% less than they got in 1995
What BC Lottery Corporation got in 2010: about three times as much revenue as 1995.

Promise to bingo players and their funding recipients in 2004: New Planet Bingo hall at Edgewater
Status of promise in 2011: Never delivered

ABOUT PARAGON GAMING

Number of slot machines in Paragon’s only Las Vegas operation, a sports bar: 15

Source of Paragon’s financing for Vancouver: unknown

Number of jobs promised by Paragon in 2010 bid for a casino in Missouri: 573

Number of jobs calculated by the Missouri Department of Economic Development for the same project: 280

Estimated annual revenue by Paragon in Missouri bid: $103.4 million

Estimated real new annual revenue calculated by the Missouri independent review of the same project: $21.7 million

Status of Paragon bids to build casinos in Sugar Creek, Missouri; Moncton, New Brunswick; Oxnard, California; and Ventura County, California: all failed

Answer of Unite Here, a union of 100,000 gaming workers across North America, to the question: “Is Paragon really the right company to take on this project?”: “no”

Disturbing event that occurred at Paragon’s Cree River Casino outside Edmonton in August 2010: customer murdered after a fight in a lounge that spilled outside.

ABOUT CRIME AND GAMBLING IN B.C.

The two best places to meet gangsters in B.C., according to Fred Pinnock, former Commander, Integrated Illegal Gambling Enforcement Team: in jails and in casinos

Hours of shifts of loan sharks at River Rock Casino revealed in Oct. 2006 murder trial of loan shark Lily Li: 24/7

Percentage increase in gambling-related crime reported by Richmond RCMP after River Rock’s establishment: 400%

Percentage of money-laundering and terrorism financing cases discovered in 2008-9 that took place in casinos, according to FINTRAC: 20%

Date that RCMP’s Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team issued a report to the provincial government warning of “extreme vulnerability” of casino industry to organized crime–money laundering, infiltration, loan sharking: January, 2009

Date that B.C.’s Integrated Illegal Gambling Enforcement Team was disbanded by the provincial government: February, 2009

Date that BC Lottery Corporation was fined $670,000 by FINTRAC for repeated failure to monitor suspicious transactions, the first fine of its kind in Canada: Summer, 2010

Number of dollars involved in suspicious cash transactions at 2 casinos in Metro Vancouver, including $460k in 20’s in plastic bags, and a suitcase with $1.2 million in casino chips, revealed by CBC in 2010: $8 million.

Reaction of Insp. Baxter, head of RCMP Proceeds of Crime Unit, to these transactions: “suspicious”

Reaction to these transactions of Rich Coleman, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor-General, also in charge of raising revenues through gambling in B.C.: “not suspicious”

Number of sentences in Vancouver city staff’s 55-page report on the B.C. Place rezoning mentioning organized crime or money-laundering: 1

ABOUT THE ECONOMIC CASE

Amount listed in Deloitte report on this project as an annual capital payback from B.C. Lottery Corporation to Paragon: $16.9 million

Estimated increase in business over Edgewater’s current revenues: 180%

Percentage of North American casino customers who live within 45 minutes of the casino: 90%

Paragon’s estimate of the number of gamblers expected to come to Vancouver every day exclusively to gamble in the new casino and stay in its 648 new hotel rooms: 548.

Feb. 2011 comment by veteran hotel broker Angus Wilkinson on the demand for new hotels needed in the city: “This city doesn’t need another single hotel room.”

Amount that would have to be charged per night for a new hotel to survive financially in Vancouver, according to Wilkinson: $400/night

Average hotel room rate in Vancouver in 2010: $166/night

When a small Richmond, B.C. casino expanded to become River Rock…

Here’s what happened when Richmond, B.C.’s small Bridgeport Casino expanded to become the River Rock Casino. Vancouver Sun, October 25, 2007. Also see “Richmond sees rash of casino-related crime” on canada.com.

Casino a crime magnet: RCMP

The opening of River Rock Casino in Richmond has led to a quadrupling of casino-related crime and allowed new organized crime groups to gain a foothold in the city, according to an internal RCMP report obtained by The Sun:

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Our coalition’s presentations to Vancouver City Council on gambling expansion, February 1

Today several members of our Vancouver Not Vegas! Coalition are speaking to Vancouver City Council on the topic of general gaming expansion in the City of Vancouver. The opportunity to speak to Council has come as a result of a motion by Councillor Ellen Woodsworth, calling for further examination of gaming practices in British Columbia before the City of Vancouver proceeds with allowing further gaming expansion within its jurisdiction.

Our coalition is speaking in support of Councillor Woodsworth’s motion.

For presentations by Amir Alibhai, Sean Bickerton and Tom Durrie, read on. For a longer presentation by Sandy Garossino, click here.


Amir Ali Alibhai

January 31, 2011
Dear Mayor plantar fasciitis treatment
construction jobs
wireless tv speakers
knee pain
outpatient drug treatment
boombox
construction company
drug addiction
and Council:

The Alliance for Arts and Culture encourages Mayor and Council to adopt the
motion, moved by Councillors Woodsworth and Cadman regarding Casino
Development in our City. We have also been asked to speak on behalf of the
BC Association for Charitable Gaming (BCACG), which has submitted a written
submission. Together our organizations represent over 6,500 member
organizations and individuals. Motion B.6 addresses growing concerns in
this City and Province that Gaming has been expanded in an unchecked manner
and operates in a non-transparent and potentially conflicted way. The huge
revenues generated through this aggressive expansion have been attained on
the backs of charities, non-profits, municipalities and communities across
this province. In spite of this increase in revenues, the amount of funds
provided to charities and non-profits has decreased! We estimate that the
recent loss of funds to Metro Vancouver arts and cultural organizations will
be about $4 Million annually!

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Strathcona Residents’ Association Opposes Edgewater Casino Expansion in Unanimous Motion

Strathcona Residents’ Association
c/o 601 Keefer Street, Vancouver, BC, V6A 3V8
Strathcona-residents.org

January 5, 2011

To The Mayor and City Council of Vancouver:

As Chair of The Strathcona Resident’s Association (SRA), I am writing to inform you that at our January 5, 2011 meeting:

The Strathcona Residents Association unanimously voted to oppose the expansion of the Edgewater Casino at BC Place Stadium in False Creek.

The SRA urges City Council to refuse to pass the B.C. Government’s application to expand gaming in the municipality, and to oppose the building of the Edgewater mega-casino.

Our reasons for opposition to the building of the expanded Edgewater casino include the following:

1. The planned casino is less than a ten minute walk from our neighbourhood. The well-documented crime that attends casinos, even in provinces with far better gambling regulation than that observed in British Columbia, is not welcome. Strathcona already suffers from crime levels far worse than most other districts. Our position is that situating a massive casino so close to the Downtown Eastside, with its pre-existing crime and policing troubles, is unwise to say the least. Recent news reports demonstrate that casinos provide easy access to money laundering for organized crime, and casinos always attract gang activity. We ask you to acknowledge the growing threat that gangs constitute to our communities.

2. The expanded casino will bring increased traffic to the tune of 300 cars per hour, which will negatively impact our community.

3. The BC government expanded gaming in this province on the back of support from charities who expected to be supported by gaming revenues. Charities have been radically cut away from these revenues. Our neighbourhood, like every other, derives important services from these charities. We see no benefit from expanded gaming in our community.

4. We are opposed to gambling and gambling expansion in general as it significantly increases social ills, something our community witnesses in graphic form daily.

Again, we urge you to decline the application for gaming expansion, and remind you that Strathcona’s opposition is strong and unanimous.

Sincerely,

James C. Johnstone
Chairperson, Strathcona Residents’ Association
Chair@strathcona-residents.org

604-254-4666

cc. Jenny Kwan, MLA
Libby Davies, MP

Costs of Gambling – comprehensive study

The following study is available at Casino Watch, a US website providing resources and research on the casino industry in North America. (You may also be interested in the Oregon site “PACT: People Against a Casino Town.”) The following study was conducted in the 1990s at the University of Illinois:

“Business Profitability Versus Social Profitability: Evaluating Industries with Externalities, The Case of the Casino Industry”

By Earl L. Grinols and David B. Mustard
Download the PDF

 

Abstract

Casino gambling is a social issue, because in addition to the direct benefits to those who own and use casinos, positive and negative externalities are reaped and borne by those who do not gamble. To correctly assess the total economic impact of casinos, one must distinguish between business profitability and social profitability. This paper provides the most comprehensive framework for addressing the theoretical cost-benefit issues of casinos by grounding cost-benefits analysis on household utility. It also discusses the current state of knowledge about the estimates of both the positive and negative externalities generated by casinos. Last, it corrects many prevalent errors in the debate over the economics of casino gambling.

Highlights

At the conclusion of its investigation, the commission recommended a national moratorium on the expansion of gambling and more study of gambling’s effects, costs and benefits, before making further decisions about it.

Many studies pay a great deal of attention, for example, to estimating the number of direct and indirect jobs that casinos create and to tallying the taxes casinos pay, but do not explain the social value of an additional job or calculate the lost taxes of competing non-casino businesses.

For example, the effect of casino gambling on firm profits should be summed over all firms, not just casinos. The increased profits of the casinos should be netted against lost profits of other firms that compete for consumer spending.

If casinos temporarily reduced unemployment faster than it would have fallen otherwise, this transitory effect could correctly be counted as a benefit of casinos. However, we know of no study that has made this case.

Although casino profits and taxes are highly visible, they are invalid measures of social benefits because they do not adjust for the entire economy for the lost profits and taxes of competing businesses.

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Dear Vancouver, do you really want a mega-casino in your downtown core?

Buck and winnie (and chip)

The current Edgewater Casino is quietly slated for  a location move and then a massive expansion in our downtown core, right near the BC Place Stadium. This could happen within a matter of weeks. It will put the casino adjacent to all of the high-end dense living of False Creek and Yaletown, not to mention adjacent to the Downtown Eastside, already plagued by crime and addictions.

Massive casinos, which are generally not found in the downtown cores of other North American cities, other than Vegas, attract endless undesirable social problems: crime, loan sharks, addiction. They are not socially palatable. Nor will this mega-casino complex be architecturally palatable – it will be designed and built by Vegas. It’s not even going out to architectural competition – its design has already been proposed and it’s hideous. We have already had an ugly, expensive and impractical stadium roof foisted upon us by the BC Liberals government; now we will be subjected to this massive gambling expansion unless we speak up. The province has bullied Vancouver enough. City Hall, start standing up to the bullies! What cards are they holding that you fold so easily?

Write to the mayor and city council! Tell them how you feel about this scheme which is very quickly and very quietly being pushed through City Hall by the BC provincial government.

Also note: gambling expansion has been pushed throughout BC with the excuse that it pays for our crucial non-profit and charity sectors. Despite laws legislating this, it has never been done. Money from the casinos is being used to fill in the gap left by the government’s own economic policies.

Please be heard!

Don’t let them gamble Vancouver’s liveability away.

Thank you.

Loan sharks feeding at River Rock: B.C. Lottery Corp

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 | CBC News article

There is growing concern that the most popular gambling facility in B.C.’s Lower Mainland — the River Rock Casino in Richmond — has become a major attraction for loan sharks.

Of the 56 people banned this year from casinos in the province for offering illegal loans, 34 were caught at River Rock, according to the B.C. Lottery Corp.

Richmond Coun. Rob Howard said he’s not surprised that loan sharks are preying on gamblers at the riverfront casino but is surprised at how quickly the problem has grown.

“It’s just in the last month that there seem to have been a wave of incidences,” he told CBC News on Monday.

Richmond RCMP Supt. Ward Clapman said the casino may be the victim of its own success.

“I’m not going to point the finger to the casino and say there is a direct cause and effect, but you have got to know that when you have a showpiece like the River Rock, that brings a lot of people together and a lot of money.”

Clapham said his officers are working closely with casino security to crack down on the problem.

And Ward said the RCMP is also investigating incidents involving organized crime, extortion, kidnapping and even murder linked to River Rock in the past year.