New South Wales authorities’ annual report finds poker machines have become a vehicle for money laundering crimes.
Australia.- In its annual report for the 2019-2020 period, the New South Wales (NSW) Crime Commission has raised questions about the potential use of poker machines for money laundering.
The report comes after the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) reported that profits from poker machines increased considerably in November and December.
Gaming machine profits reached AU$582.7m (US$447.9m) in November and $629.6m in December, up 1.8 per cent year-on-year in November and 6.5 per cent in December.
In the last half of 2020, poker machine profits in the state totalled $4.4bn, which is $400m more than in the same period in 2019 despite restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Crime Commission believes poker machines in New South Wales have become the vehicle for money laundering due to their high load-up limit, which is significantly larger than in other Australian states.
The report reads: “It is possible that Australia will be perceived as a safe haven for the legal and illegal transfer of international funds following the way it is handling its Covid-19 response.”
The closure of casinos limited the chances for such illegal activity, and the Commission believes that the recovery from the pandemic prompted a return of money laundering through poker machines.
Meanwhile, NSW is preparing an amendment for the current regulation of gaming machines. The Gaming Machines Amendment Bill 2020 will focus more on problem gambling issue than on avoiding money laundering.