River Rock’s top VIP host­ess no longer works at the casino

The Province - - NEWS - SAM COOPER scooper@post­media.com

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.

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