The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has announced it will be launching a second unit with the express interest of tackling severe non-compliance at multiple gambling operators, with risk mitigation their key interest.
The formation of this new unit announced to the “Regulating the Game” conference, warned the industry of an impending crack down on any threats or perceived risks of money laundering. This comes in the wake of AUSTRAC’s investigations into Sportsbet and Bet365, launched late last year under suspicions that they had failed to comply with several anti-money laundering laws.
The risks range much further than this however, with the New South Wales Crime Commission already finding billions of dollars’ worth of dirty money are, and continue to be, laundered through gambling activities every year. Measures such as a drastic shift to cashless gambling at poker machines are the sort of steps this new unit would be looking to implement.
AUSTRAC’s manager of regulatory operations, Bradley Brown stated that this was clearly a move against money laundering as opposed to a war on the freedoms or abilities to operate of individual companies or even the industry at large. Bradley stressed that risk mitigation is the key, despite this however, the industry has inevitably raised concerned.
In the case of the cashless cards proposal by the NSW Crime Commission subsequent to their substantiated claims, have raised concerns about the purchasing of legitimate ID on the dark web. A truly tangible issue at this moment in time that is not limited to the gambling sector in particular but could most certainly perpetuate this issue of money laundering in the industry significantly.
Navigating these issues will be the true test of this new unit, especially if the regulatory agency does not wish to limit or damage the legitimate and legal ability of the industry to operate in the region. Risk mitigation it seems is more a balancing act than an uncompromising craft.
The very notion of causing a disruption or possible derailment to the multibillion-dollar sector would cause unimaginable havoc. Not least because Australia boasts one of the most important and lucrative gambling activities in the world, ingrained in the culture perhaps, displaying the highest rate of gambling the world over.