NDP blasts lottery corporation spending

Employee buyout program backfired, lottery tickets sold to minors, suspicious cash transactions in casinos doubled

NDP gambling critic David Eby

A financial review of B.C. Lottery Corp. put a sunny face on an organization that continues to waste money and have significant gaps in control of illegal activities, NDP gambling critic David Eby says.

Among the findings of the review were that BCLC costs have been rising faster than revenues from casinos and lotteries, four departing executives received 18 months severance pay regardless of their length of service, and a test of retailers found that 40 per cent of them sold lottery tickets to minors.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong released the report Wednesday in Kamloops, with BCLC board chair Bud Smith describing an overhaul of the corporation’s human resources department after a staff buyout program that was designed to save $6.6 million, but ended up costing $25 million.

The corporation offered early retirement and severance packages to employees aged 50 and older, expecting to eliminate 68 positions. The offer was accepted by 142 employees, and de Jong admitted that BCLC will have to hire more staff to fill some of the unexpected vacancies.

The program was “not a particularly shining example” of management, he said.

Eby also noted that since BCLC stopped paying for a dedicated RCMP group to investigate money laundering, suspicious cash transactions in B.C. casinos have doubled, “and to my knowledge there has not been a single charge at a B.C. casino related to money laundering.”

De Jong said the increase in reports to Ottawa of large cash transactions are in part due to a better system for detecting them.

“There are some big rollers out there who travel from Macao to Vegas to Vancouver, who are used to transacting their gaming in cash,” de Jong said.

Eby also highlighted an “employee recognition” program that paid out $217,000 last year in cash, gift cards and merchandise, and a catered corporate box at the Rogers Centre in Vancouver.

“This is money that is taken from hospitals, schools and public programs to pay for BCLC executives to go to Canucks games,” he said.

The audit also showed that BCLC’s venture into online poker and gambling, PlayNow.com, is bringing in only three per cent of the corporation’s revenues after five years of operation.

 

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