AUSTRAC enhances collaboration with gambling industry

Jenny Ortiz 3 months ago
AUSTRAC enhances collaboration with gambling industry

Australia’s financial transactions regulator, AUSTRAC, has unveiled a comprehensive strategy aimed at fostering collaboration with the gambling sector to ensure compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) responsibilities.  

The initiative involves targeted checks across various segments of the industry. 

Brad Brown, AUSTRAC’s national manager of regulatory operations, announced on Monday that the regulator is adopting a multifaceted approach combining collaboration, education, and investigation.  

The goal is to enhance oversight of an industry that has faced scrutiny for compliance shortcomings. 

Speaking at the Regulating the Game conference in Sydney, Brown highlighted AUSTRAC’s establishment of a casino working group in May 2023.  

This group forms part of a public-private alliance focused on intelligence-sharing to address money laundering and criminal vulnerabilities within the gambling sector.  

The alliance, which includes AUSTRAC officials, law enforcement agencies, government bodies, and representatives from Australian casinos, meets regularly to discuss challenges and potential solutions. 

AUSTRAC’s emphasis for 2024 will involve conducting targeted assessments of larger casino operators to ensure effective identification and management of money laundering and terrorism financing risks. Additionally, AUSTRAC has dedicated supervisory teams for both casinos/bookmakers and pubs/clubs, focusing on compliance engagements and assessments. 

Positive response from the gambling industry 

The gambling industry has responded positively to AUSTRAC’s enforcement efforts.  

Vixio reported a senior industry source praised AUSTRAC’s commitment to enforcing AML obligations, noting a shift towards collaboration between AUSTRAC and industry stakeholders.  

However, there are concerns about the potential for regulatory capture. 

Smaller casinos are urged to demonstrate their commitment to compliance by incorporating lessons learned into their operations and aligning with industry expectations.  

AUSTRAC has initiated enforcement investigations into corporate bookmakers, with a focus on addressing AML/CTF deficiencies.  

The regulator is also prioritizing efforts to educate and assess corporate bookmakers to ensure compliance with regulatory expectations. 

Focus on electronic gaming machines  

In 2024, AUSTRAC will maintain its focus on Australian pubs and clubs, particularly regarding electronic gaming machines.  

Concerns persist regarding the identification of risks and the reliance on manual transaction monitoring in many establishments.  

AUSTRAC also notes a lack of specificity in AML/CTF programs and a broader misunderstanding of regulatory requirements within this segment. 

Improving relationship with federal, state regulators  

Despite past communication challenges, AUSTRAC reports an improving relationship with federal and state gambling regulators.  

SiGMA Americas

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