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Ontario Casino Faces $52K Fine for Alleged Money Laundering Incident

The Ontario regulator stated that the offending casino allowed a “high-risk” player to exchange CA$80,000 ($60,000) in cash for chips and leave without gambling

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has imposed a CA$70,000 ($52,000) fine on MGE Niagara Entertainment Inc., the operator of Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls. This punishment aligns with AGCO’s increased scrutiny in recent months as the regulator strengthens its enforcement policy. Fallsview Casino announced it would appeal the fine, likely heralding a more in-depth review of the case.

AGCO’s latest news release stated that the incident occurred in April 2023 when a patron visited the Salon Privé, a high-limit gaming area within Fallsview Casino Resort known for offering sophistication and discretion. The patron reportedly handed CA$80,000 ($60,000) in strapped CA$100 bills, carried in a reusable grocery bag, to a casino attendant.

Surveillance footage revealed that after the money was counted and confirmed, the patron left the table with casino chips without engaging in any gambling activity at that time. Notably, the AGCO stated that the identified patron was previously flagged as “high risk” by the casino. However, employees took no measures to inform officials or on-site police as per standard protocols.

The AGCO further highlighted that Fallsview Casino failed to take meaningful steps to verify the source of the patron’s funds, a requirement under the Registrar’s Standards for Gaming’s anti-money laundering rules. The lack of action constitutes a substantial violation of AML guidelines and safe gambling requirements, justifying the steep CA$70,000 fine.

In response to the fine, a spokesperson for Fallsview Casino expressed disagreement, asserting the venue’s commitment to compliance and ethical conduct. Registered operators can contest such decisions and bring their case before the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT), an adjudicative tribunal independent of the AGCO and part of Tribunals Ontario.

This newest fine reflects AGCO’s continued vigilance and determination to ensure a safe and sustainable gambling sector. The authority has been very proactive recently, pursuing even high-profile operators such as PointsBet for responsible gaming breaches. AGCO noted it maintained close communication with operators, ensuring they adhered to its rigorous standards.

The CA$70,000 fine, CA$10,000 less than the alleged laundered amount, signals the regulatory authority’s uncompromising stance on adherence to anti-money laundering regulations within the province’s gambling establishments. Fallsview Casino’s decision to appeal should hopefully shed more light on the case, revealing whether the establishment failed its AML responsibilities.

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