Criminal Target New South Wales Poker Machines

It is no secret that Australians love playing pokies but new figures suggest criminals are targetting NSW poker machines.

The NSW Liquor and Gaming Authority release figures for gambling revenue and profit across the state. The latest figures show profit from poker machines soared more than 10% compared to last year despite lockdown restrictions.

Pubs and clubs in NSW recorded profits of $3.1 billion between June and October. July alone was huge with profit up 23.3% from $581 million to $716 million. Those figures are almost unbelievable considering pubs, clubs, and casinos shut for several months.

Victor Dominello is the Minister for Customer Service and is responsible for gambling in NSW. Dominello has plans to introduce a gambling card that has similarities to the Opal cards used on public transport. The card will help problem gamblers and stop money laundering in its tracks.

The gambling card renders cash useless in poker machines. Gamblers pre-load money onto the card and use that whenever they play pokies.

Crown Resorts Inquiry Uncovers Money Laundering on Poker Machines

Philip Crawford, the Chair of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority pointed to poker machines used for money laundering. Crawford highlighted the Bergin inquiry into Crown’s operations in Melbourne.

Crown made an 11th hour admission criminals probably laundered money through the casino’s bank accounts. This resulted in Crawford preventing Crown from opening its $2.2 billion Barangaroo resort in December. It won’t open until some time in 2021 when the inquiry completes.

Money laundering has links to drugs, people trafficking, financing terrorism and chile sexual exploitation according to Crawford.

“Poker machines get targeted by criminal elements because they are a simple and cost-effective way of money laundering by washing cash through a machine. Any reasonable steps that can be taken to reduce money laundering in NSW, including the use of technology, should be seriously considered by the government and by industry.”

Using poker machines to launder money is growing increasingly common. High stakes table games such as baccarat are traditionally popular with money launderers. This is because criminals can play for very high stakes. These high stakes games draw attention, however, as the biggest stakes are only played by a handful of people.

Using poker machines means criminals can have several people playing pokies for hours and not draw unwanted attention to their activities. Money launderers play pokies for hours before cashing out and giving the fresh money to criminal bosses. All transactions are in cash instead of digitally which makes the process easy for organised criminals.

Alliance for Gambling Reform Pushes For Gambling Card

Tim Costello is always vocal about his destain of gambling and the risks it brings. The Chief Advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform wrote to Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Costello urges Berejiklian to support a gambling card.

“Criminals launder money through poker machines every day in NSW pubs and clubs. This is deeply disturbing for many reasons. There is a way to reduce money laundering, which will in turn likely reduce criminality and increase the budget bottom line in NSW. The answer is the universal cashless gambling card proposed by Minister Victor Dominello.”

Costello’s letter went on to explain several benefits of such a gambling card. These include reducing gambling harm and removing a method of money laundering by criminals.

The cards need to be preloaded with cash before the gambler uses them at the venue. Those venues can check the history of the person loading the cards and prevent them from adding cash to it. They would do this if they suspected the person is a problem gambler or part of criminal activity.

An academic at Macquarie Business School, June Buchanan, revealed money laundering in Australia is “big business.” Lax checks by the biggest venues make Australia a money launderer’s dream, which isn’t a reputation anyone wants.

Furthermore, the U.S. State Department lists Australia as a “primary jurisdiction of concern” for money laundering, according to Buchanan.