River Rock, other casinos allegedly being used by drug money-laundering operation, report says

A new report sheds light on the elaborate scheme that allegedly ends with gamblers walking through B.C. casinos with a million dollars in drug money. Paul Johnson reports.

The River Rock Casino and other casinos are allegedly being used by an international money-laundering operation that has seen drug profits passed on to gamblers who take the cash, turn it into chips, and invest it in assets like housing.

The revelations are contained in a bombshell story by Vancouver Sun reporter Sam Cooper that was published on Friday.

WATCH: Cops bust alleged money-laundering ring

Cooper has spent years following B.C.’s hot housing market and some of the “funny money that’s been flowing in,” he told Global News.

His story described how VIP gamblers, known as “whales,” are allegedly recruited in Macau to come to B.C. casinos and being given cash by drug dealers.

Cooper reported that those gamblers allegedly buy chips using big wads of small bills, win their money and that it “looks like they invest in Canadian assets,” such as housing.

READ MORE: Red tape obscuring money laundering in B.C. casinos: financial crime expert

The gamblers have allegedly been known to operate both in legal casinos and gaming houses that have been established in Richmond, Cooper reported.

But one casino in particular stands out.

“It’s happening at other casinos, investigators say, but River Rock is where it’s really happening,” Cooper said.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby said he was “troubled” by the story that “drew direct connections to the drug trade.”

“I don’t think anyone had any illusions that if there was money-laundering taking place in B.C. casinos, that the money being laundered was somehow the proceeds of crime,” he said.

A River Rock spokesperson wouldn’t comment on Cooper’s report, saying that Global News should call the provincial authority that regulates casinos.

  • With files from Paul Johnson

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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