UA Flag We stand with Ukraine. Donate
AUSTRAC Focuses on Clubs' Pokies in $70 Billion AML Offensive

AUSTRAC Focuses on Clubs' Pokies in $70 Billion AML Offensive

by Dave Sawyer
Categories: Pokies

Australia's financial crime watchdog, AUSTRAC, will target the estimated $70 billion fed into poker machines in NSW clubs each year, as part of its latest initiative to crack down on the laundering of dirty money in the gambling industry.

According to new AUSTRAC chief executive Brendan Thomas, three out of four of the almost 90,000 pokies in NSW are in clubs, many of which are "massive" and rival Sydney's Star casino. 

Thomas stated: 

We're having a look at the clubs sector in a much more focused way. They're quite substantial with lots of money flowing.

Mr Thomas also warned that Australia's back door was "swinging wide open" to drug dealers, human traffickers and murderers because financial crime laws do not cover lawyers, accountants and real estate agents. With Thomas emphazing the urgent need for changes to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) laws to avoid the economy-damaging effects of being "grey-listed" in the global financial system.

 Until we do that, we are still going to have significant risk and a significant challenge to criminals exploiting our financial system.

Citing the growing threat posed by criminal gangs using pokies to launder cash, he said the more than 1000 clubs operating in NSW required greater scrutiny of their operations, Thomas went on to add:

We've had work done by the NSW Crime Commission that's talked about the risk exposure of clubs and gaming to money laundering and organised crime. It's not just about education, it's about compliance as well.

A NSW Crime Commission-led review in 2022 found it could not tell how much of the $95 billion fed through pokies in the state annually were proceeds of crime, but it was "many" billions, primarily from drug dealing.

NSW clubs have about 74 per cent of the state's roughly 90,000 poker machines, suggesting their share of the annual churn is about $70 billion. After player returns, the clubs rake in $4.6 billion in pokies revenue, according to data from the NSW government Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade. 

The Bankstown Sports Club, for example, booked $102 million in gambling revenue from 745 poker machines in 2022-23. Gambling income made up more than 70 per cent of the club's revenue, according to its annual report.

The move against NSW clubs comes after AUSTRAC whacked the country's biggest casino operators with a series of high-profile lawsuits over the past three years. In 2022, the watchdog launched Federal Court action against casino operators Star Entertainment and SkyCity, alleging serious and systemic failures to comply with AML/CTF laws. 

In 2023, the Federal Court ordered Crown Resorts to pay a $450 million penalty over two years after similar proceedings against the company and its Melbourne and Perth casinos.

Earlier this year, AUSTRAC launched an enforcement investigation into Bet365, the second international bookmaker to be probed. Rival Entain, which runs Neds and Ladbrokes, is waiting on the outcome of a separate investigation into whether it breached financial crime laws.

About the author

Dave Sawyer

Dave Sawyer

With nearly a quarter of a century working within the iGaming space, Dave started out his iGaming journey in 2000 with Ladbrokes based in Gibraltar. Five year later in 2005 he left Ladbrokes to become a  full-time casino affiliate webmaster, a position he held until 2019.

Prior to the start of Online Casino HQ in the first quarter of 2024, Dave has written for Casinomeister and Casino Gazette. 

Dave has been a speaker at industry events like the 2006 Casino Affiliate Convention and AffiliateFest 2017, and has been a moderator on the Casinomeister Forum since 2011, joining its editorial team full-time in 2019. 

With a passion for online slots, Dave offers a unique perspective, having worked as an operator, player, and affiliate.

Recent News

Bang Bang Reloaded

Published on 10/05/2024

Egypt King Book Hunt from Swintt

Published on 08/05/2024

Kenneth Must Die from Nolimit City

Published on 08/05/2024
Sign up for our newsletter

By subcribing you are declaring that you are over 18 years old and that you have reviewed and accepted out Privacy And Cookie Policy


Online Casino HQ does not encourage or condone the use of any information on this website for illegal purposes. It is the user's responsibility to ensure they meet all age and regulatory requirements before engaging in online gambling or placing wagers. Online gambling is prohibited in many jurisdictions, and users should seek legal counsel regarding the legality of online gambling and gaming in their respective jurisdictions. The information provided on this site is intended solely for news and entertainment purposes.

Online Casino HQ is an independent directory and information service operating independently from any gaming operator. Links to third-party websites on Online Casino HQ are provided strictly for informational and educational purposes. By clicking on these links, you will be leaving the Online Casino HQ website.

Our Partners

18+ Logo  Protection Status

© 2024 Online Casino HQ. All rights reserved.

Scroll To Top