British Columbia, Canada's westernmost province, is defined by its Pacific coastline and mountain ranges. It’s the third largest Canadian province, and is four times the size of Great Britain. Two-thirds of British Columbia’s land base is forest land, and more than half of that area has had little or no human contact.
With a population of close to five million people, half of all British Columbians live in the metropolitan area of Vancouver.
The British Columbia Lottery Corporation conducts and manages commercial gambling on behalf of the Government of British Columbia under the provincial Gaming Control Act.
The commercial gambling industry includes PlayNow.com (British Columbia’s only legal online gambling website), provincial and national lottery games, 17 casinos, 18 community gaming centres, seven commercial bingo halls, two horse racetracks and 19 horse racing teletheatres (off track betting locations).
In 2018/19, commercial gambling in the province generated revenue of $2.6 billion. Licensed gambling events generated about $27.7 million for not-for-profit, charitable and religious organisations.
The government of British Columbia’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) regulates all legal gambling in British Columbia.
We spoke to Assistant Deputy Minister and General Manager, Sam MacLeod (pictured right), to learn more about the local gambling industry and regulatory landscape.
‘The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch ensures the integrity of gambling industry companies, people and equipment, and ensures compliance with policies and standards established under the Gaming Control Act and the Gaming Control Regulation,’ explains Sam.
‘This includes regulatory oversight of commercial gambling conducted and managed by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (i.e. lotteries, casinos, community gaming centres, commercial bingo halls and PlayNow.com), British Columbia’s horse racing industry and licensed charitable gambling events. GPEB also delivers responsible and problem gambling programs.’
Ensuring British Columbia’s gambling facilities are not being used by organised crime groups is an ongoing focus for the regulator.
‘In June 2018, the Attorney General of British Columbia released an independent report into money laundering in the gambling industry,’ says Sam.
‘The report found that large-scale, transnational money laundering has been occurring in British Columbia’s casinos. It also highlighted how organized crime used the “Vancouver Model” to take advantage of Lower Mainland casinos, as well as other sectors of the B.C. economy.
‘The report includes 48 recommendations that government has accepted in principle. The recommendations are wide-ranging including the creation of an independent gambling regulator and shifting authority for anti-money laundering to Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch.’
Sam took up the role as Assistant Deputy Minister and General Manager at the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch in July 2018. Prior to this, he was Assistant Deputy Minister and Superintendent of Motor Vehicles.
While fairly new to the gambling industry, Sam says he is enjoying the change.
‘I particularly enjoy the fast pace of change in this industry and I look forward to the many exciting initiatives on the horizon.’
When not at work, Sam likes to stay fit and active.
‘There is nothing like a good work-out to unwind and I also golf and hike on a regular basis.’
If you’d like to find out more about gaming regulation in British Columbia you can email Sam via his Executive Assistant, Maureen Veer, on Maureen.Vear@gov.bc.ca.