Vancouver Casino Struggles Because of New Rules and Decline in VIP Visits

  • The Parq Vancouver Casino is the newest and largest casino in British Columbia
  • It had decent profits in its first three months of operation
  • However, new anti-money laundering rules in 2018 caused revenues to tumble
  • The casino had losses of nearly US$114m in 2018
Canadian flag against Vancouver skyline
The Vancouver Parq Casino is struggling because of anti-money laundering protocols and decreasing numbers of VIP gamblers.

Parq Vancouver Casino is Struggling

The Parq Vancouver, the newest and largest casino in the province of British Columbia, has been in the middle of a number of recent controversies.

The casino opened on September 29, 2017. The casino floor encompasses 30,000 square foot and there are over 600 gaming machines and nearly 80 table games.

For the Parq’s three months of operation in 2017, it had decent profits. However, since the introduction of new anti-money laundering laws, it has been struggling. The measures were established by province authorities at the start of 2018.

The laws require that the source has to be verified for all cash of more than CAD$10,000 (US$7,437; £5,705) that enters a casino in British Columbia. While this policy has decreased the number of suspicious transactions, it also has a negative effect on casino revenues.

According to the attorney general in the province, they are seeing a “reduction of about 100 times from what the peak levels of these suspicious transactions were.”

The preferred form of deposit at these casinos for larger sums is now bank drafts. This is because it is much easier to trace the origin of these funds.

Money Laundering Accusations

The new anti-money laundering rules came into place because of a history of dodgy anti-money laundering in the casinos.

A report called “Dirty Money,” published in October 2017, showed the extent of these shady practices. The report alleged that the provincial government turned a blind eye to these dodgy practices because of the significant tax revenues from gambling.

The report showed how criminal enterprises cleaned their dirty money using these casinos. This led to the appointment of a third party auditor to the province’s three casinos to ensure they were meeting proper compliance standards.

Drake Controversy

The Parq Vancouver Casino struggled with enacting these new protocols for some time. It led to a controversy involving world-renowned rapper Drake.

He alleged that the casino racially profiled him when he tried to play at the facility. He did not meet their verification requirements when he tried to gamble there. Drake said that all of the verification checks were successful and that he was still refused.

The casino had two responses to this PR nightmare. One of these said: “Parq Vancouver is sorry to hear about this experience and takes these matters very seriously. We are required to adhere to strict regulations with respect to gaming in British Columbia. We are actively investigating this matter and have made several efforts to reach out to the customer and his team to discuss the issue.”

After Drake spoke about this issue on social media, many negative reviews of the casino were left on various review sites.

Decline of High Rollers

According to figures from the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, revenue dropped by 12% in the first quarter revenue to US$210m (£161.5m).

The CEO of the company said that VIP playing numbers remain down in the region since the introduction of the new anti-money laundering measures. Blackjack and baccarat figures are somewhat more stable in the River Rock Casino but other casinos are struggling.

More serious issues are at work for the Parq Vancouver Casino. It has missed an interest payment for its second lien loan.

In 2018, the casino lost almost US$114m (£87.7m). The S&P global rating agency has now downgraded its rating to selective default from the CCC level.