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Approval for direct wire transfers to casinos one key to luring international gamblers

March 1st, 2011 · 23 Comments

The longer the debate about a casino expansion goes on, the more we learn.

What I learned today was something about how gamblers with lots of money get their money to casinos. Until a year ago, they could only bring cash — a problem if you’re coming across the border, where the limit is $10,000.

For the last year and a bit, the B.C. Lottery Corporation has run a pilot program that was described to me this way in an email from the Solicitor General’s ministry, which regulates gaming.

“In December 2009, a pilot project of Patron Gaming Fund accounts began with casinos in the Lower Mainland. These accounts enable a patron to deposit funds, withdraw them at a gaming facility for play, then re-deposit funds, either for further play later or return to their source account.

The accounts are for patrons who typically gamble at VIP table games frequently, providing them with a higher level of security in handling large sums of money. For these accounts, electronic funds transfers can only go to and from chartered Canadian banks.

Now the lottery corporation wants to go one step further, by allowing direct wire transfers into casinos from select banks. I’m told that’s important to the Paragon plan to generate $100 million in business from international gamblers as part of its overall projections for the expanded Vancouver casino. Even the current system, under the pilot project, is considered cumbersome for people who play at casinos around the world.

Of course, that raises the spectre of money laundering for some. Though, as others point out in my story in tomorrow’s paper, everything to do with money in any form contains a potential for money-laundering.

The trick, I suspect, with the proposed new idea of direct money transfers will be to be very, very careful about which overseas banks will be allowed to be on the list of those who clients can wire money.

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