Ontario’s Fallsview Casino to Appeal $70K Fine for Money Laundering

Posted on: January 26, 2024, 10:12h. 

Last updated on: January 27, 2024, 11:27h.

Fallsview Casino Resort in Ontario tells Casino.org that it “respectfully disagrees” with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s (AGCO) decision to fine the gaming property for allegedly violating money laundering regulations.

Fallsview Casino Ontario money laundering
The Fallsview Casino Resort overlooks Niagara Falls. The casino operated by Mohegan is dismissing allegations from Ontario’s gaming regulator that it failed to protect its gaming floor from money laundering crimes. (Image: Niagara Falls Hotels)

The AGCO this week levied a C$70,000 (US$52,039) fine against the Fallsview Casino. That’s after the provincial gaming regulator concluded that the casino failed to meet regulatory conditions in place to minimize the risk of unlawful activity on its gaming floor, specifically money laundering.

The regulatory cited an incident in April 2023 involving a patron entering the Salon Privé casino with C$80,000 in cash stuffed in a reusable grocery bag. The cash was reportedly all CA$100 bills.

Surveillance video showed the person exchanging the cash for gaming chips at a table game before leaving without gambling. Fallsview staff identified the person as “high risk” but reportedly failed to notify the AGCO and on-site police about the transaction as required by Ontario anti-money laundering rules.

The casino operator also failed to take any meaningful steps to ascertain and corroborate the patron’s source of funds, as is required by anti-money laundering rules set out in the Registrar’s Standards for Gaming,” the AGCO statement explained.

“The prevention of unlawful activities at Ontario’s gaming sites is a key priority for the AGCO. Casino operators have an important role to play and must take steps to effectively identify and prevent criminal activity from occurring on their gaming sites,” the release added.

Fallsview Rejects Allegations

Fallsview Casino Resort emailed Casino.org a statement rebuffing the AGCO allegations. Fallsview is owned by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). Its operations are leased to Mohegan, the gaming entity of the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut.

As a responsible gaming operator, Fallsview Casino Resort is dedicated to identifying and preventing unlawful activities. Our company has a culture and history of integrity and transparency, and a longstanding commitment to compliance in Ontario,” the Fallsview statement read.

The casino said it “will be appealing” the AGCO penalty and looks forward “to presenting our case.”

Mohegan acquired the operating rights to Fallsview and Casino Niagara in 2019 after the OLGC decided to sell off the management. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. But Mohegan pledged to invest “several hundred million” into the properties.

Provincial Crackdown

After casinos were allowed to reopen in Ontario in July 2021, the government of Canada’s most populous province announced new initiatives to better combat money laundering schemes. The AGCO formed a task force to monitor large cash transactions at provincial casinos.

The AGCO said it expected a rush of illicit activities after casinos and other places criminals try and use to launder dirty cash were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, and associated closures and physical distancing measures, has disrupted some money laundering methods — particularly those that rely on the placement of illicit cash into cash-intensive businesses,” a July 2020 report from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) read.

The AGCO task force has been working with the Ontario Provincial Police and OLG to supervise cash transactions at the province’s casinos.