Former B.C. Lottery Corp. board chair says government 'ill-suited' to run gaming

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VANCOUVER — The former chairman of the board at the British Columbia Lottery Corp. says he advised cabinet ministers in two different governments to get out of high-end gaming where bet limits reached $100,000.

Bud Smith testified at the public inquiry into money laundering that former Liberal finance minister Mike de Jong and New Democrat Attorney General David Eby both ignored what he says was his "brilliant idea."

Smith, a former B.C. attorney general, says he expressed his views about getting the Crown-owned lottery corporation out of high-limit gaming to de Jong in 2015 and to Eby in 2017, shortly after the NDP formed government.

He says the potential for suspicious activities at gaming outlets has historically been present in B.C. and the government would be better suited as a regulator, while allowing other entities to run high-limit gaming.

Smith says de Jong told him during a meeting to continue the lottery corporation's anti-money laundering strategy based on risk assessments of players and their sources of cash, and not move to a policy focused on restricting cash at casinos.

The NDP government appointed B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen in 2019 to lead a public inquiry into money laundering after three reports outlined how hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal cash affected the province's real estate, luxury vehicle and gaming sectors.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press