BCLC Investigation Prompts Gateway Casinos to Drill or Burn Decks

A BCLC investigation into disposal activities at Gateway Casinos has led to the issuing of new rules regarding the destruction of playing cards. The development will affect all casinos in British Columbia.

Case Background

A Vancouver media outlet discovery about unshredded documents subsequently turned into a regulatory BCLC investigation. This then prompted all Gateway Casinos to sever ties with a shredding company and agree to new rules about destroying playing cards.

And it all took place in the course of just three weeks.

It started with a whistleblower who claimed that a shredding company was merely tossing private, confidential documents into dumpsters. They were supposed to shred them instead, and so the Vancouver reporters who received the tip investigated. Their corroborating findings also included playing cards. This prompted the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) to get involved, as those cards could be found and used to cheat at card games in casinos.

Ultimately, the investigation resulted in BCLC issuing new rules regarding the destruction of playing cards that will affect all Gateway Casinos.

From Whistleblower to Local News

News1130 is a local all-news-radio station in Vancouver. While covering news from around the world, reporters remain focused on local news for their listeners and website readers.

In early March, someone associated with the company – labeled John Doe to maintain privacy out of fear of retribution – contacted News1130 with a tip. He told of unlocked trash bins filled with unshredded documents. ShredWise, a mobile document shredding company, should have destroyed them. The bins included everything from copies of passports to credit card statements, from insurance records to playing cards.

The reporters from News1130 went to check out the bins. They found them as the tipster claimed, accessible to the public and filled with documents containing personal information. The National Association for Information Destruction has also been pegged to investigate.

ShredWise CEO Tino Fluckiger said the whistleblower claims were the result of an employee issue. However, he said an internal investigation would take place.

From Local News to Regulator

News1130 reporting included a photo of a trash bin full of playing cards. ShredWise had picked it up from the Grand Villa Casino in Burnaby. That casino is part of the Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Company, which operates 12 casinos in British Columbia and Alberta. The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) regulates all of these. A BCLC spokesperson subsequently prepared a statement regarding an active investigation into the incident; according to the corporation, the “allegations are very concerning to BCLC.”

Companies that service casinos licensed by BCLC must adhere to proper regulations, including those hired to destroy playing cards. Destruction is supposed to occur by punching holes through the cards. Or otherwise sufficiently rendering them useless. This sometimes requires them to be shredded multiple times due to the size and wax covering on the cards.

Why are the requirements so strict?

The requirements are actually stricter than one might imagine. People with the intention to cheat can and will go to great lengths to mark cards, read the slightest flaw in a card, or bring their own cards into play. Regular play can also damage the cards quite easily, and any defect in a card whatsoever can be enough for cheating to occur.

To prevent this from happening, casino regulators set restrictions for the length of time a deck of cards may stay in play. That time frame could be as little as a few hours, as some decks may not last one casino worker shift. To ensure that cards are sufficiently destroyed, regulators may require that they be shredded or a hole drilled through them. Methods of destruction and time allowed to use a particular deck vary by casino and/or gambling regulator. And can vary by state, province, and country.

From Regulator to Casino

The only Gateway Casino property using ShredWise was the Grand VillaCasino at Burnaby. That business relationship is over. Grand Villa Casino also took other steps to ensure compliance with regulations going forward. After stopping all business with ShredWise, the casino ordered all new playing cards from a new series. This is to ensure there would be no way to use the undestroyed cards to any advantage.

In addition, BCLC  issued new directions to all British Columbia casinos that requires them to no longer use external companies to destroy playing cards. The casinos themselves must drill holes in the outgoing decks or place them in an incinerator.

Cheaters may have missed an opportunity to use a trash bin full of playing cards to cheat. Moreover, Grand Villa Casino management couldn’t be more relieved that they missed their chance.

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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