River Rock’s top VIP hostess no longer works at the casino
A prominent River Rock Casino employee who oversaw all high-limit betting operations is no longer working at the Richmond casino after losing a review of her deregistration.
Postmedia sources say Lisa Gao, the casino’s former director of VIP guest relations, allegedly called a third party to arrange a cash delivery for a VIP gambler at the casino and that action violated anti-money-laundering regulations.
As a result, Gao was investigated by B.C.’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch in November 2017 and her registration was revoked. All gaming industry workers must be registered with the B.C. government.
The enforcement branch decision was reviewed and upheld, and on Feb. 2 River Rock Casino’s general manager of operations Michael Kim sent a note to staff stating in part, “This is to announce the departure of Lisa Gao, director VIP guest relations, River Rock Casino Resort.”
The B.C. Ministry of the Attorney General would not confirm whether Gao had been investigated due to privacy reasons. In an earlier statement, the ministry confirmed that in early November the enforcement branch began investigating an employee at River Rock Casino “after it was alleged the employee acted in direct violation of B.C. Lottery Corp. and Fintrac (Canada’s anti-money-laundering agency) directives about third-party cash buy-ins.”
Postmedia has attempted to contact Gao for comment through her LinkedIn account, but she could not be reached.
Until recently, Gao’s LinkedIn profile said she worked for River Rock Casino since 2012, most recently as director for VIP guest relations. River Rock Casino is operated by Great Canadian Gaming.
The profile went on to state she worked “closely with all key department heads … (and oversaw) daily operations of all high-limit areas on property.”
Gao was also responsible for overseeing table play in River Rock’s exclusive VIP Prive program.
Great Canadian Gaming corporate records show the executive responsible for River Rock’s Prive program is Walter Soo, who was appointed executive vice-president of player and gaming development in 2015.
According to Great Canadian’s corporate reports there can be consequences to the company’s registration if employees are deregistered.
“Gaming regulators may refuse to issue or renew, or may suspend or terminate, the company’s registration if the company, or a director, officer employee or associate … is considered to be a detriment to the integrity or lawful conduct or management of gaming; no longer meets a registration requirement ; has breached or is in breach of a condition of registration…” a Great Canadian report says.
Problems surrounding cash lenders and VIPs at River Rock have been raised with Great Canadian Gaming executives since at least 2014.
In August 2014, Business in Vancouver reported that Great Canadian had posted the highest quarterly revenue in its history, and the skyrocketing profits were due to a surge in gambling at River Rock Casino. The story said River Rock’s success was due to wealthy Asian visitors that also frequent Macau and Las Vegas casinos.