The dark side of gambling, be it online or in land-based casinos, is not only the risk of avid players falling into a gambling addiction or risking bankruptcy. The industry is notorious for being the ideal environment for discreet money laundering.
Ontario is the only state worldwide which simultaneously to regulating and introducing the igaming industry to its market, has also established authoritative bodies and designed laws and services to monitor, report and uncover any suspicious activity which could be criminal.
So far, it seems that this system is proving successful with almost $400M being reported to the authorities by casino staff as being potentially suspicious money.
Reportage of deposits which may seem dubious are being taken seriously however, this is not aligning with the fact that nevertheless, the same casinos making these reports are accepting these deposits.
Branavan Kanapathipillai's case is one of many that resonates with us in this situation.
It has recently been uncovered that Branavan Kanapathipillai has been responsible for at least $4 million of these suspicious transactions.
Investigations have led to the conclusion that Kanapathipillai had been money laundering for several years at at least four different casinos.
His case was cracked with one of the most recent reports, coming from the Niagara Fallsview Casino where he tried to make a single deposit worth $100,000.
Kanapathipillai's personal details on his various online casino accounts simply did not add up with the fact that since 2016, he had been making deposits of an unbelievably high value at these casinos.
Claiming to be employed in the education sector, he got away with depositing $824,700 in ten separate deposits valued between $50,000 and $100,000 at Pickering Casino in July 2022.
It is believed he was also a member at One Toronto Gaming and Casino Rama, where he was also laundering money. Of course, these insanely high deposits were followed suit with even higher withdrawals following wagering some of the money on casino games.
What was another source of concern when it came to his deposits and eventual withdrawals, from the casinos he had joined is that the source of this money, of course, was unclear.
This immediately led to the suspicion that Kanapathipallai was laundering money through these casinos.
It is highly unlikely that anyone, let alone someone whose main income comes from a profession within the education sector could so easily make a deposit worth $100,000 at a casino, so of course his attempt raised eyebrows at Niagara Fallsview.
Kanapathipillai's case is one of many and surprisingly, is not the most shocking part of this story.
What is of more concern is what compelled these casinos to accept the money they were doubtful about in the first place.
With Branavan Kanapathipillai's case, in particular, it results that four different Ontarian casinos have been accepting deposits which they deemed suspicious since 2016.
How could the staff have reported these transactions to the authorities, but at the same allowed the deposit to go through and the player to wager and withdraw even larger sums of money from the casino?
This is what is being critiqued the most following news of this case.
The fact that igaming and land-based gambling are used to launder money is common knowledge at this point.
Any service put in place to report suspicions of money laundering on these platforms and in these establishments is futile if the same casinos making the reports accept the money.
In Ontario, the rules in place were set by the Alcohol and Gambling Commission and imposed that any casino operating in the state requests a proof from members of where they are getting their money.
This is not only necessary in Ontario in fact, and explains why on many gambling platforms online, it is required to provide a recent payroll receipt upon registration or before your first withdrawal.
Following the Ontario Principal Police's investigation of Kanapathipillai's case, NDP critic for Attorney General Kristyn Wong-Tam commented on the situation being "quite alarming" and emphasizes that this is an issue of "major concern".
Despite these dubious transactions being regularly reported and investigated by the authorities, the fact that there was still $372 million worth of suspicious transfers within 2022 only, is distressing.
Wong-Tam, along with other critics, question what will be done to clean up the Ontarian igaming and casino market from this "dirty money".
It should be noted that despite the levels of suspicious money transfers having dramatically fallen during the pandemic, the new statistic from 2022 turned out to be 38 million dollars higher than that recorded pre-pandemic.
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