The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) hopes to increase its revenues this year as it has attracted a number of Chinese high rollers.
Since its lottery ticket sales have fallen, the Crown Corporation has focused on promoting its casino products to wealthy high rollers from Mainland China, who are willing to bet as much as $100,000 on a game of baccarat. BCLC CEO Jim Lightbody says that the strategy has been immensely successful as table games, including high-stakes games, have generated 20 percent more revenue than last year.
The Crown’s budget papers indicate that it intends to beat its own target of generating a net income of $1.2 billion for the fiscal year ending on March 31 because of “an increase in high-limit table revenue.”
But critics say that the provincial government is taking a huge risk by promoting a variant of gambling that has been known to encourage organized crime and money laundering in different parts of the globe.
Sandy Garossino, who belongs to Vancouver Not Vegas, an association that is urging the government to impose a moratorium on gambling expansion, said: “I would suggest we’re more than flirting with this, and the government has to know this. Surely, someone, somewhere should be asking: Is this the right thing for a B.C. Crown corporation to do?”
According to Lightbody, brick-and-mortar casinos have raised the number of “salons” or private gambling rooms and increased table limits from $5k to $100k per hand. Casinos have also started providing comps, accommodation, and free food for the benefit of their high-stakes customers.
Currently, the Lower Mainland has 135 salons or private gambling rooms, most of them in the region’s top four casinos—Vancouver’s Edgewater, Richmond’s River Rock, Burnaby’s Grand Villa, and New Westminster’s Starlight.
The high-stakes tables are meant chiefly for Chinese gamblers, who prefer high-stakes baccarat games.