Loto-Quebec is the state gaming regulator and also a gambling operator that runs a number of casinos in Quebec. Loto-Quebec has been accused by the Le Journal de Montreal of fostering money laundering activities at its casinos.
The publication made a number of allegations this week which Loto-Quebec decided not to comment on by falling back onto the Privacy Act.
The allegations against Loto-Quebec are quite serious as the media publication has accused the state owned operator and regulator of deliberately fostering money laundering at its casinos. The report alleged that Loto-Quebec encouraged VIP gamblers such as Stefano Sollecito to gamble at their casinos and spend millions of dollars.
Stefano Sollecito is an Italian-Canadian underworld boss who declared an annual income of 5 figures but has yet gambled millions. The casino operator encouraged these VIP gamblers who have connections to the underworld by giving them special bonuses which included concert tickets, comped hotel rooms, free rounds of gold and free meals at their restaurants.
The report claimed that Stefano Sollecito was part of the reward program at Casino de Montreal and was a frequent gambler at Loto-Quebec casinos.
Casinos Third On The List For Money Laundering
Loto-Quebec used the Privacy Act to not directly address all of the allegations but claimed that the rewards program at its casinos were open to all players and no special treatment was given out to individuals like Stefano Sollecito.
The Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC) released a report in 2019 which claimed that money laundering activities were rampant at Canadian casinos. First on the money laundering list were private businesses, followed by illegal banking and third casinos.
The CISC report also showed that there were 176 organized crime groups in Canada and more than 17 of those groups used Canadian casinos to wash their dirty money. A lot of the money laundering is alleged to have taken place at casinos in British Colombia.
Loto-Quebec said that the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC) had reviewed its compliance program and had given them a clean report. The state regulator also claimed that was falling back on the Privacy Act because it was unable to disclose information about individuals playing at the casino to the public.
We will have to wait and see if Quebec authorities decide to follow the footsteps of British Colombia and bring in an independent gaming regulator to bring in more transparency to regulated casino market.