Crown AML manager backs cashless gaming proposal

Crown Resorts has agreed to introduce cashless gaming at its casinos.
Crown Resorts has agreed to introduce cashless gaming at its casinos.

Crown’s anti-money laundering manager Nick Stokes has said he’s in favour of phasing out cash at Crown’s casinos.

Australia.- The proposal to introduce cashless gaming at Crown casinos has the support of Nick Stokes, Crown’s anti-money laundering manager.

According to the Financial Review newspaper, Stokes said there was no reason why a cashless card could not be introduced to help prevent financial crime at Crown’s casinos.

Stokes stated: “I think from an anti-money laundering perspective it would help us considerably. Being able to track all transactions above a certain threshold.

“I think [up to $2,000 on the card] would be reasonable … that would track play… at the moment we’re not capturing all play: it depends on whether someone’s playing card or uncarded.”

Regulators in New South Wales called on Crown to introduce cashless gaming as one of the measures it proposed after its inquiry into the operator.

Victoria’s Royal Commissioner, former Federal Court judge Raymond Finkelstein, who is currently carrying out an inquiry into Crown said: “[The cashless proposal] would probably reduce the attractiveness and effectiveness of a serious money laundering institution.”

The cashless proposal has also been supported by members of religious institutions and community service organisations, who said it could have a considerable impact on people who are experiencing gambling harm.

Rev Tim Costello, chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform said the cashless gambling system should be linked to verified ID and to self-exclusion registers.

He also said it must include low load limits to ensure people regularly take breaks from gambling. He’s also called for a ban on credit card gambling.

The Star Entertainment, which has made a bid to buy Crown Resorts, has also agreed to advance towards cashless gambling to help tackle money laundering.

Crown legal chief ignored concerns about money-laundering risks

Earlier this week, Nick Stokes told the Royal Commission in Victoria that Crown’s former legal chief Joshua Preston ignored his concerns about money-laundering risks.

Stokes also said he tried to increase the anti-money laundering team at Crown Resorts, which only had three staff members, but that Preston had said it wasn’t necessary.

However, Stokes said things had changed at Crown Resorts and that he now has a team of 20 anti-money laundering staff.

Stokes said: “I have seen that attitude change quite considerably to the point where the business now is very proactive in taking on those first-line responsibilities … we are looking to build the team further.”

Crown’s former legal head, Joshua Preston, stepped down from the company after telling the NSW Bergin inquiry he was unaware whether junket operators were linked to organised crime.

Victoria’s Royal Commission has also received several written submissions accusing Crown Resorts of causing gambling addiction.

Ai Nguyen, a gambling counsellor at the Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association, said Crown Resorts’ 24/7 operating hours, its rewards system and a weak self-exclusion programme failed to help people with gambling problems.

WA gambling regulator under scrutiny

The WA Royal Commission is also examining the suitability of Crown Resorts to continue holding a casino gaming licence for Crown Perth.

Western Australia’s gambling regulator is also being investigated about how it exercised its powers under relevant state and federal laws and whether the regulator was capable and effective in its duties.

An interim report is expected by June 30 and a final report with findings and recommendations by November 14.

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