Report finds Ontario regulator lacks transparency

The report found that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario lacks transparency.
The report found that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario lacks transparency.

The report by the Auditor General notes an increase in suspicious transaction reports at casinos in the province.

Canada.- A report from the Auditor General of Canada has concluded that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) lacks transparency.

The report by Auditor General Bonnie Lysky finds that the AGCO “lacks operational transparency on its financial and regulatory activities.”

Lysky reported that the number of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) at casinos in Ontario has risen by 19 percent and the value has doubled.

While the presence of provincial police in casinos has been increased in a bid to combat suspicious transactions, the report found that officers seized cash on just four occasions between 2017 and 2019.

Despite low rates of action, the police department has noted a major surge in suspicious transactions, suggesting a movement of prolific offenders to Ontario in response to anti-money laundering crackdowns in other Canadian provinces.

Speaking in a statement following the release of her report, Lysky said the AGCO “had identified money laundering as a major risk in casinos and recognised it had gaps in its regulatory processes but it had not developed a plan to address those gaps.”

In the province of Quebec, the minister of finance recently announced that an independent auditor will lead an investigation into four casinos following allegations of criminal activity.

Meanwhile, gambling activities are set to expand in Canada, after a bill to legalise single-event sports betting was passed last month.