In Australia, a special government taskforce has reportedly recommended a crackdown on illegal gambling after its investigations revealed that criminal sportsbetting exchanges were taking in approximately $805 million every year.

According to a report from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, the Black Economy Taskforce found that there were at least ten large illegal sportsbetting exchanges operating in the country with some of these run by international syndicates and local criminals already known to authorities and under investigation.

“During our work we have identified numerous illegal betting exchanges operating in Australia, many connected to Asian crime gangs,” Michael Andrew, Chairman for the Black Economy Taskforce, reportedly told the newspaper. “They use these illegal betting exchanges to convert black money into white money. We have for several months been gathering information on these agents and punters but welcome any more intelligence from the community.”

The newspaper reported that Andrew’s statements come in advance of the start to the nation’s spring thoroughbred horseracing season, which will include November’s prestigious Melbourne Cup. The former Chairman for KPMG Asia-Pacific additionally purportedly declared that his group had so far received 147 submissions including some from insiders in the racing industry but that the problem goes beyond this sector and that his group was now collecting information on illegal betting in general.

He reportedly warned bettors not to utilize illicit means in order to place wagers as these are often employed to illegally launder money and urged the racing industry to join his group’s efforts by agreeing to name and shame violators.

“Illegal gambling undermines the integrity of our racing and sports entertainment industries,” Andrew reportedly told the newspaper. “It makes no economic contribution to social infrastructure, state taxation nor to the cost of the racing product. It puts legal betting operators at a large competitive disadvantage especially with high volume professional punters.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently outlawed live in-play online sportsbetting despite lobbying from some of the nation’s major sports including the Australian Football League (AFL). Sports wagers may now only be placed in-person during play or over the telephone with Andrew purportedly warning punters that the consequences of breaking these rules “could be serious”.