AUSTRAC launches second specialist unit to tackle money laundering in gambling

The watchdog aims to increase its attention to money laundering in the gambling industry.
The watchdog aims to increase its attention to money laundering in the gambling industry.

The move is a response to AUSTRAC’s identification of serious non-compliance at several gambling operators.

Australia.- The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has established a second specialist unit to combat money laundering in the gambling industry. It warned the industry about the creation of the new unit at the Regulating the Game conference in Sydney.

The watchdog said the unit has been created in response to “serious non-compliance in a number of businesses”. Last year, AUSTRAC launched an investigation into suspicions that Sportsbet and Bet365 failed to comply with anti-money laundering laws. External auditors are expected to report back on their findings soon. 

An AUSTRAC spokesperson said: “AUSTRAC allocates its resources to manage the threat of money laundering and terrorism financing in the Australian financial system, relative to the risks faced by different industry sectors.

“The establishment of a second specialist team focusing on entities in the gambling sector is indicative of the current risk environment in the industry.”

AUSTRAC’s manager of regulatory operations, Bradley Brown, said there had been a significant increase in suspicious matter reports in the last 12 months. He told The Guardian: “There are many legitimate people who seek to gamble and we are not necessarily against the gambling sector, it’s more about managing the risk when it does occur.”

Last year, the New South Wales Crime Commission (NSWCC) concluded that criminals were “funnelling billions of dollars of dirty cash through poker machines” in pubs and clubs every year. It called for cashless gaming at poker machine venues to limit money laundering.

State premier Dominic Perrottet announced that all gambling machines in New South Wales will become cashless by 2028 if the coalition government is re-elected in March.

In this article: