Opinion: Money laundering bombs should make Delta council re-think casino approval

It was my intention to write about the ridiculous new speculation tax and some other examples of government ineptitude but recent articles regarding money laundering coming from the attorney general’s office has changed that.

Because Delta has a bylaw banning all forms of gambling, I wasn’t too concerned when a casino proposal became public. Soon, however, Delta council was arranging for a public hearing to debate the pros and cons of a new casino. At these hearings the B.C. Gaming Commission, the casino owners and others who stood to gain financially all spoke in support, while those against the project were South Delta taxpayers.

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After the public hearing council voted to support the project. Since that time there has been a continuous release of investigations that are all negative to the activities B.C. casinos generate. The Peter German report was released shortly after council’s approval that concluded over $100 million in criminal money had been laundered through B.C. casinos.

Later we learned the RCMP had been investigating money laundering for several years but had not stopped it.  Video released from security cameras showed hockey bags full of $20 bills being accepted at casinos to purchase chips. 

Last month B.C.’s attorney general says he was shocked by a report from the RCMP and federal government that indicated money laundering in B.C. is more than $1 billion per year. The report ties casinos to the purchase of expensive real estate, the short-term ownership of extremely expensive cars and, most importantly, the trafficking of drugs. 

A subsequent Global News report stated B.C. Gaming Enforcement Branch audit documents show the amount of money laundered approached $2 billion a year. 

So when you look back over the last year we can see those who spoke in favour of the casino either didn’t tell the truth or didn’t know what they were talking about. The RCMP has been investigating the situation for years but hasn’t been able to stop it or arrest any major players.

The attorney general of B.C. admits he didn’t have any idea of the scope of this criminal activity.

Given these new reports I believe council must re-visit the approval of this project and if it’s concerned about being sued I believe the incorrect and incomplete information given at the public hearing would provide an adequate defence based on misrepresentation. 

Recently the B.C. Government Employees Union issued an online petition asking for a public enquiry: “A public inquiry could be our best chance to learn the truth about a crisis that has claimed thousand of lives, and has made our province the most unaffordable to live in.”

Delta council is giving tax exemptions and waiving development fees for Gateway in return for a chump change portion of its profits. South Delta does not need the jobs, the traffic or the crime.

I have never seen one reason why South Delta needs this casino. This industry has now driven house prices beyond reach of young parents who should be raising their families here. The location could not be more high profile and I do not want the community I live in known globally for the laundering of drug money.

Please contact the attorney general and ask him to stop this terrible project.     

Greg Hoover is a project manager in industrial and commercial construction who has lived with Christina in Tsawwassen for over 25 years.

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