Budget crunched?

Internal government records show British Columbia Lotteries Corp. wanted to cut its funding for the province's integrated illegal gaming enforcement team two years before it was shutdown. The province's gaming minister Rich Coleman has said the RCMP team - which was setup in 2003 to crackdown on illegal gambling - was disbanded because there was dissatisfaction with the "outcomes or the success of this particular operation." That seems to be at odds with an earlier statement from an RCMP spokesperson, who cited "funding pressures and other operational and investigative priorities" as the reasons for that disbandment. And now, Public Eye has exclusively obtained meeting minutes for the team's five-member consultative board that could shed light on what might have been one of those pressures.

According to those minutes, on November 26, 2007, the board discussed an effectiveness report, written by public policy consultant Cathy Tait, which supported "IIGET continuing."

The lottery corporation's then president and chief executive officer Dana Hayden also told the board her agency "supports IIGET." But, according to Ms. Hayden, "funding the team" - which was costing between $628,000 and $1.6 million annually - didn't "fit within BCLC's mandate."

As a result, the board, which included three government representatives, decided the team "should be funded directly by the province" - although money continued to flow from BC Lotteries until the team was shutdown.

But, asked whether that shutdown had to do with funding pressures, Minister Coleman told Public Eye, "No, because if there had been something that said that this was being effective and we received a business plan and those sort of things it would have been a total different discussion."

However, "none of that occurred," he continued. "And our concern was we were just putting good money after bad. Frankly, we weren't getting the results we wanted."

In an earlier interview, the team's former commander Fred Pinnock said his unit was shutdown because the RCMP was "under significant pressure to allocate resources elsewhere to respond to more high-profile crime trends" that would "keep them positioned to ensure the renewal" of their provincial policing contract in 2012.

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