The sharking truth

Last week, CTV's Mi-Jung Lee reported there have been a soaring number of crime complaints connected to British Columbia's casinos. According to Ms. Lee, "in the past five years loan sharking complaints have nearly tripled to 306, fraud has jumped ten times to 283 and assault complaints have more than tripled." In response, gaming minister Rich Coleman said the province is "on top of it. We'll stay on top of it." But, as Public Eye readers know, that doesn't appear to be the case when it comes to loan sharking. In an earlier exclusive interview, the gaming policy and enforcement branch's former casino investigations manager Ed Rampone told us that - when he was in government - not a lot of resources were spent on catching such criminals because such investigations would have sucked up time and money better used to stamp out more serious crimes such as drug dealing. Moreover, "For most of (loan shark users), as long as they pay, they have no problem with these people," explained Mr. Rampone - who was employed by the civil service until April 2009.

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20th century histories (for example, those of Las Vegas and Atlantic City) contain countless examples proving control of gambling by organized crime. At the same time, politicians regularly assured citizens that operations were absolutely clean, free of criminal influence. Many of the public servants speaking were in the grasp of the crime families.

An enterprising reporter wrote the words but robber Willie Sutton has been forever credited with the statement.
"Why did I rob banks? Because, that's where the money is."

Today, we could ask, "Why would criminals be involved in BC casino operations? The answer would be, "Because, that's where the money is."

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