NSW Crime Commission: “criminals funnel billions of dollars through pokies”

The NSW Crime Commission led an inquiry into money laundering via EGMs.
The NSW Crime Commission led an inquiry into money laundering via EGMs.

The NSW Crime Commission has made a series of recommendations in a report on money laundering.

Australia.- The New South Wales Crime Commission (NSWCC) has released its final report into money laundering in the state, concluding that criminals are “funnelling billions of dollars of ‘dirty’ cash through poker machines” in pubs and clubs every year. The regulator found a lack of effective controls or data collection to identify or prosecute those involved. 

The NSWCC has recommended the mandatory introduction of cashless gambling cards and enhanced data collection measures to crack down on money laundering through electronic gaming machines (EGMs). It noted that approximately AU$95bn in cash flows through poker machines in pubs and clubs in NSW each year.

See also: NSW starts testing cashless gaming at Wests Newcastle  

The NSWCC has made eight recommendations for reform following the investigation, which it carried out with the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority NSW and the assistance of AUSTRAC and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. 

  1. Government introduce a mandatory cashless gaming system to minimise EGM related money laundering within pubs and clubs.  
  2. Government, in consultation with industry and regulators, create a legislative or regulatory framework requiring certain standardised data be maintained for EGMs to better flag suspected money laundering.   
  3. Government engage with industry to: (a) identify ways that collection and analysis of EGM data could be enhanced for the purposes of money laundering identification at a venue level and to improve evidence available for prosecution; (b) explore technical and policy/process solutions to better utilise data collected by EGMs; and (c) identify ways of creating real-time alerts for money laundering flags.
  4. The legislative and regulatory frameworks governing EGMs in NSW be amended to clarify that persons/entities with functions associated with EGMs must take steps to prevent money laundering. 
  5. Government introduce a mechanism that enables government agencies or venues to recommend the cancellation/revocation of an RCG certification; and a mechanism for the regulator to revoke an RCG certification in appropriate circumstances.
  6. Government engage with industry and regulators to create a legislative or regulatory mechanism to support the exclusion of persons suspected of dealing with proceeds of crime from venues with EGMs, supplementing the existing rights of venues to exclude patrons from their premises.   
  7. Government, in consultation with industry, update education requirements to include education on money laundering and increase the frequency of the training provided to venues from internal and external sources to support venues in discharging their obligations under the AML/CTF Act.   
  8. Government work with industry to build the sector’s investment in AML/CTF training and education, and secure support for training from external sources. 

NSW crime commissioner Michael Barnes said: “At the moment serious offenders can enter NSW pubs and clubs, sit down next to patrons in gaming rooms, and openly feed large sums of cash from their crimes into poker machines with no real fear of detection.   

“The lack of traceable data collected by EGMs means the exact scale of this criminal activity is impossible to determine but it is clear from our investigations it involves many billions of dollars every year. These basic reforms will help exclude vast sums of dirty cash that are primarily the proceeds of drug dealing. I’m sure venues won’t argue they should keep receiving that.”

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