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B.C. crackdown on money laundering apparently taking toll on high-stake play


RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) — A major Lower Mainland casino operator is blaming new rules aimed at stopping money laundering for recent losses at high-stake tables.

The latest quarterly report from Great Canadian Gaming, which owns Richmond’s River Rock and Coquitlam’s Hard Rock casinos, shows a 12 per cent drop compared to last year to $283 million.

CEO Rod Baker says VIP play has fallen in British Columbia since last year’s crackdown by the province on dirty money.

“This is clearly a disappointing quarter and we’ve got a bunch more work to do which I can confirm for you, we are diligently working on continuing to move our business forward,” he says.

RELATED: Money laundering report finds no federal Mounties dedicated to B.C. investigations

He adds overall revenues grew 35 per cent compared to the same period last year and topping $312 million.

“I don’t know if we even, at management, would read anything into that tempering other than calling it still a relatively stable environment,” Baker adds.

Baker is responding to changes ordered after gamblers were spotted carrying duffel bags full of cash into the River Rock, but he says losses at Coquitlam’s Hard Rock casino are more because of recent strike action.

“Less broadly dispersed at the VIP level than our River Rock business which is obviously much more robust and large and diversified among a larger player base,” he adds. “You know, River Rock has recycled through some of the changes from last January.”

RELATED: City of Vancouver pushing for public inquiry into money laundering, organized crime in B.C.

During a conference call with investors, Baker also promised efforts are being made to turn losses around.

“We have a busy year ahead of us with our development plans and we look forward to sharing our progress.”

According to Bloomberg, another local casino which isn’t owned by Great Canadian Gaming is also losing money.

Parq Vancouver recently missing an interest payment on a loan.