Crown and ILGA to consult after Bergin findings

By Charlotte Lee Updated
Crown reforms to take years to fix, Perth commission heard

The Bergin report into Crown Resorts’ suitability to hold a casino licence in NSW doesn’t spell the end for the operators’ pursuit to open the lynchpin of its multi-billion dollar site.

Gambling Insider reports that Crown Resorts could open its casino by the end of April, as long as it’s willing to cooperate with guidelines set out.

After the company received the Bergin report, the head of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority Philip Crawford reminded the community that it is up to Crown to regain its suitability.

The regulatory body is contractually obliged to consult the company over the recommendations presented in the report.

After the inquiry and the warning that NSW Crime Commission released about a possible threat to the Australian economy from the casino non-starter, Senet, Australia’s gambling law, regulatory and compliance advisory, announced it will launch new compliance accreditation named Senet Assure and Senet Assure Premium that aims to protect gaming operators and customers against gambling-related harm and money laundering.

“The certification will only be awarded to operators who can demonstrate the highest level of vigilance,” Senet regulatory and gambling specialist Paul Newson said.

“The accreditation is a way for industry leaders to demonstrate they are meeting the highest standards of accountability and exceeding best practice in protecting their customers and their staff in cultivating a workplace culture of compliance and social responsibility.”

NSW pokies cause concern for crime commission

The Australian economy could become a place for ill-gotten money, a New South Wales government body fears.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the NSW Crime Commission fears Australia’s management of the COVID-19 crisis could lead to it becoming a place for international criminals to launder money.

The commission’s concerns emerged as new figures show the state’s poker machine profits in the final months of 2020 were up on the year before, fuelling concerns about widespread exploration of the machines as a money laundering avenue for criminals.

Figures from Liquor and Gaming NSW for November and December show gaming machine profits were $582.7 million and $629.6 million over the two months, increases of 1.8 per cent and 6.5 per cent in the same period in 2019.

Between July and December, total gaming machine profits were $4.4 billion, up from $4 billion in the last six months of 2019.

About 96,000 poker machines are distributed across 4000 venues in New South Wales, including 1500 machines at the Star casino in Sydney.

The statewide increase in profits in 2020 occurred despite curbs on trading in pubs and clubs during COVID-19 restrictions.

Cashless gambling push by NSW government

NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello is pushing to introduce a gambling card to help problem gamblers while also curtailing money laundering.

Under the proposal, poker machines would become cashless and gamblers required to register and pre-load money to the card.

Troy Stolz, a former Clubs NSW anti-money laundering compliance auditor turned whistleblower, said illicit funds were a “massive” driver of poker machine turnover.

“All they are doing is cleaning the drug money so they can circulate it in the economy without being pulled up,” he said.

Mr Stolz said it was difficult to know how much of the money going through machines was illicit because venues were turning a blind eye and not meeting their responsibilities to monitor and measure the turnover.

NSW poker machines are particularly attractive to criminals because of the high load-up limit, which is significantly larger than other states.

Poker machines can be used to wash money by depositing the illicit funds and after a short period of gambling, withdrawing the balance along with a legitimate record of the transaction.

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