B.C.’s gaming regulator investigating ‘deeply concerning allegations’ of sex assault, harassment at River Rock Casino

Attorney General David Eby at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, November 23, 2017.
Attorney General David Eby at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, November 23, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C.’s gambling regulator is investigating the management of River Rock Casino for the handling of alleged incidents in the casino’s VIP gaming rooms, including an alleged sexual assault involving a VIP gambler and River Rock employees, Global News has learned.

The current investigation by B.C.’s gaming enforcement branch — a body that licenses and regulates B.C. casino service providers — was triggered after B.C. Attorney General David Eby ordered B.C. Lottery chief executive Jim Lightbody to “immediately look into these serious allegations.”

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: VIP linked to top Chinese officials, real estate, corruption allegations, gambled with $490k at B.C. casino

In an October 2017 letter, obtained by Global News, Eby directed Lightbody to investigate:

“Whether there have been reported or unreported incidents of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault on floor staff, and if so what actions were taken by the service provider and BCLC;”

“Whether management at River Rock is failing to report assaults on their staff to BCLC;”

“Whether BCLC or River Rock have required staff to sign some kind of non-disclosure agreement; and if so … the legal basis for it.”

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: How Chinese gangs are laundering drug money through Vancouver real estate

Lightbody hired Paladin, a private security company, to investigate. Paladin interviewed a number of employees at River Rock Casino, and presented findings to Lightbody.

“BCLC has zero tolerance for instances of harassment or assault in its gambling facilities,” BCLC spokeswoman Lara Gerrits said, in response to questions about the investigation. “BCLC looked into circumstances of the deeply concerning allegations, and provided a report to the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch for investigation.”

According to multiple sources with knowledge of Paladin’s report, serious allegations included a probe of a possible sexual assault that allegedly took place in 2016. A VIP gambler allegedly became intoxicated in the company of a VIP employee, sources said, and the VIP assaulted another female employee. There were questions, sources said, about how management handled this and other alleged incidents.

Great Canadian Gaming provided a statement confirming an inappropriate incident had occurred.

“A troubling incident did occur where one of our female employees at River Rock was grabbed inappropriately. While such incidents are rare at our facilities, we take them extremely seriously.”

The statement says that Great Canadian took “immediate action” including contacting BCLC and providing evidence requested by the RCMP.

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Extended interview with David Eby

Extended: How transnational crime groups target Canada
Extended: How transnational crime groups target Canada

“The customer in question was barred indefinitely from all Great Canadian facilities,” the statement said. “Our company and our employees cooperated fully with the review by Paladin. We have not seen any report which may have been produced, nor have BCLC or GPEB contacted us about its findings.”