Ontario Launches AML Task Force as Casinos Reopen

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has established an inter-agency task force to monitor cash transactions as casinos reopen and the province gears up to further open up its igaming and sports betting market.

Consisting of representatives from the AGCO, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), and Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG), the task force will be closely watching cash transactions at casinos. An AGCO release notes that member agencies can take appropriate action within their legislative mandate if any unusual patterns or transactions of concern are identified.

Derek Ramm, director of anti-money laundering at AGCO, said: “The inter-agency task force is a great example of the cooperation between provincial agencies to disrupt potential criminal activity and ensure the integrity of Ontario’s gaming industry. I’m very pleased to be working with colleagues from AGCO, OPP, and OLG on this project.”

In July 2020, Canada’s financial intelligence unit, FINTRAC, released a report that showed a marked decrease in the amount of large cash transaction and casino disbursement reports being filed since lockdowns were instituted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.The report also raised concerns about money laundering methods that involve the placement of illicit cash into the legitimate financial system.

Ian Messenger, director of anti-money laundering of the OLG, said: “OLG maintains strong relationships with our task force partners and looks forward to continuing our collaboration to monitor and detect potential money laundering. Money laundering has no place in Ontario’s gaming industry. As patrons return to the province’s casinos and gaming sites, we will be working closely with our colleagues at the ACGO and OPP to proactively identify suspected illicit cash and ensure that appropriate actions are taken using our capabilities and those of our task force partners.”

Chief Superintendent Alison Jevons, OPP investigation and enforcement bureau, added: “This is an excellent joint initiative that will augment the ongoing efforts between provincial agencies to disrupt potential money laundering within the Ontario gaming industry. This inter-agency task force will continue to strengthen the already close working relationships between the OPP, AGCO and OLG to ensure the integrity of Ontario’s gaming industry.”

This move aimed at address money laundering in Ontario’s gaming industry comes against the backdrop of a rapidly changing market in the province.

Ontario casinos can reopen again when ready at 50 per cent capacity as the province entered stage three of its “Roadmap to Reopen” from July 16.

The AGCO has also officially launched iGaming Ontario, its new subsidiary mandated with facilitating the creation of a safe, regulated, and competitive online gaming market within Ontario. Initial rules for iGaming, titled the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming, have already been outlined the AGCO.

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