Casino: the man who stands up to the underworld

Mafia, bikers, organized crime. After having stood up to the black market at the Société québécoise du cannabis, the new boss of Loto-Quebec, Jean-François Bergeron, now wants to fight money laundering.

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And various projects to achieve this are already in motion, including one that could lead to the end of cash in gambling establishments.

In fact, Loto-Québec wants all of the bets and winnings to eventually go through a single card that would be provided to each player.

The latter should make a deposit on this card to be able to play at tables or slot machines in casinos. It would then no longer be possible to leave the walls of gambling establishments with tokens.

For example, at a poker table, after inserting his card and choosing an amount, the player would receive chips, but he could not leave the table with his bets. The value of his winnings would be transferred to him at the end.

This formula would make it easier for the Crown corporation to spot “suspicious transactions” and to better track the money.

Management would like to have this new measure installed as a pilot project in at least one casino in the fall of 2022.

More checks

Since June, Loto-Québec has also carried out a “due diligence” on a client as soon as a deposit exceeds $ 3,000. This process was previously carried out only for sums of more than $ 10,000.

“We check the identity and the source then we plug it”, advances the big boss, specifying that his organization works with the police authorities.

In the fall of 2020, remember that our Bureau of Investigation revealed the presence of organized crime activities at the Casino de Montréal as well as the privileges that certain mafia leaders may have received.

After these reports, the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, had ordered a special external audit on money laundering. For its part, Loto-Québec claimed that it did not have the power to refuse access to an individual, even if he was suspected of having links with organized crime.

Since then, the Legault government has said it wants to put in place the measures suggested in the report and wants to give Loto-Québec more power.

To date, no player has yet been banned from establishments because of their links to organized crime, management confirms. Quebec is still working on the regulatory framework to be able to do so.

“What I can say, however, is that the privileged programs, the personalized offers, have been withdrawn from people who have links with organized crime,” said Mr. Bergeron.

Offensive for the online market

Loto-Québec also wants to launch an offensive against illegal online gaming sites in the near future.

“We understand, today, that if it is not [le site de] Loto-Québec, it is not legal. Now, it is certain that we will launch an offensive, ”replied Mr. Bergeron, believing that it was not time to counter-attack in the midst of a pandemic.

The crown corporation wants to promote its products more and educate people about “responsible gambling”.

“We see that online, we are not as present as we should be. As we can see, when we are not there, there are other organizations that take the place. It’s up to us to take our place, ”concludes the president.

Indigenous territories: very worried about illegal casinos

Loto-Québec does not hide its concern about the opening of illegal gambling dens on Native reserves, such as the establishment linked to organized crime being built on the territory of Kanesatake.

“Of course that worries us. All the files that take place on indigenous territories are sensitive and extremely complex ”, answers the Newspaper the CEO, Jean-François Bergeron.

“From a market point of view, it is obviously income that Quebec does not have, but for me, it is especially the treatment of responsible gambling that worries me. […] Gambling is not a trivial product, ”he continues.

The latter believes that often these establishments or illegal websites do not have the sensitivity to help players with problems.

Quebec to choose

In the spring, faced with illegal gambling dens on indigenous territories, the Legault government confirmed, during the study of the credits, that it was studying the possibility of making certain casinos legal.

Discussions were underway with elected officials from Kahnawake, noted the Minister responsible for Native Affairs, Ian Lafrenière.

Some models of partnership between governments and members of Indigenous nations exist elsewhere in Canada. These gaming sites are then managed jointly and the two managers share the profits.

Quebec, however, closed the door to the idea of ​​being associated in projects with people with links to organized crime.

Mr. Bergeron preferred not to comment on this possibility of a new partnership, mentioning that this decision is up to the government.

Loto-Quebec has also admitted to having heard, in recent months, of the offer of illegal games in certain bars or establishments in Quebec. For example, businesses would offer their customers tablets or computers to play online casino games.

“It is the police who must seize these devices. […] It’s not [pas] our work […] », Says Mr. Bergeron.

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