Ontario Casino Slapped with $52K Fine for Suspected Money Laundering Incident

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has handed down a hefty fine of CA$70,000 ($52,000) to MGE Niagara Entertainment Inc., the operator of Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls. This decision comes as part of AGCO’s increased scrutiny and enforcement efforts, signaling a more stringent approach to regulation.

The fine stems from an incident that took place in April 2023 at the Salon Privé, a high-limit gaming area within Fallsview Casino Resort. According to AGCO’s news release, a patron visited the area and handed over CA$80,000 ($60,000) in strapped CA$100 bills, all carried in a reusable grocery bag. Subsequent surveillance footage revealed that the patron then left the table with casino chips without engaging in any gambling activity. The AGCO pointed out that the identified patron had been previously flagged as “high risk” by the casino, yet no measures were taken to inform officials or on-site police as per standard protocols.

Furthermore, Fallsview Casino failed to take meaningful steps to verify the source of the patron’s funds, a violation of the Registrar’s Standards for Gaming’s anti-money laundering rules. This failure to act led to the substantial CA$70,000 fine imposed by AGCO.

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

This recent fine reflects AGCO’s continued vigilance in ensuring a safe and sustainable gambling sector. The regulator has been proactive in pursuing responsible gaming breaches, even targeting high-profile operators such as PointsBet. The CA$70,000 fine, slightly less than the alleged laundered amount, demonstrates the regulatory authority’s unwavering stance on adherence to anti-money laundering regulations within the province’s gambling establishments.

Fallsview Casino’s decision to appeal the fine signals the potential for a more in-depth review of the case, shedding more light on whether the establishment failed its anti-money laundering responsibilities. This situation underscores the importance of compliance and adherence to regulations in the gambling industry, as AGCO maintains its rigorous standards and close communication with operators.