ILGA Says 10 Mini Casinos Used For Major Money Laundering Racket
- Ten mini casino pokie venues used for major money laundering racket
- millions of dollars laundered through these mini casino venues
- Pokie machines serving as a money laundering mechanism
Crime investigators and the New South Wales (NSW) gaming regulator uncovered an elaborate money laundering nexus operating through ten mini-casino pokies sites in Sydney.
The clubs were hotbeds for professional money launderers who sought to ‘clean’ illegal proceeds worth millions of dollars through pokie machines.
Money Laundering Rampant in NSW
Recent evidence suggests that at least 20 NSW venues were targeted by money launderers since 2014. As per law enforcement briefings, such cases are becoming widespread occurrences in NSW. Authorities traced that almost 40 percent of the suspected $6 million in dirty cash was ‘cleaned’ via pokie machines in the highlighted venues that were being monitored in real-time since October 2021.
Intel briefings also connected tax evasion with a rise in money laundering incidents. The suspected launderers were linked with organized crime rings in Vietnam that deal in drug funds. According to the evidence, 400 pokie machines at a club in Western Sydney were used by the crime syndicate to clean suspected drug funds worth $150,000. While the launderers gambled less than $1000, the remaining amount was exchanged for cash and extracted as tickets. The latter method is a common practice in money laundering.
60 Minutes Australia
Senior police echelons privately support an inquiry commission to examine these incidents in NSW. However, while regulatory agencies such as the NSW gaming watchdog and the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) lack in power to confront the incidents, the state police and federal agency Austrac are deficient in resources and legislative heft to be able to act.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is contemplating a commission akin to former judge Patricia Bergin’s inquiry into Crown Resorts. Despite its significant findings, the commission was still unable to examine pokies venues.
Perrottet’s office is still looking into gaming investigator David Byrne’s allegations that over 95,000 poker machines in NSW were operating as effective laundering devices. Further, Byrne speculated that approximately $1 billion illegal cash was laundered through these pokies located at different pubs and clubs in the state. The Premier’s office said that the NSW government would take up cudgels with the ILGA and others to prosecute the offenders.
Customer Service Minister Pushes for Inquiry
Among the advocates for the commission is the customer service Minister, Victor Dominello. While several coalition MPs back Dominello’s attempts, other ministers are wary of stirring up the hornet’s nest as the demand might upset the strong gaming lobby and owners of small pokie machine venues.