In Australia and the Chief Investigator for the Liquor and Gaming New South Wales regulator has reportedly asserted that his state’s 95,000 video slots are being used to illegally launder ‘hundreds of millions’ of dollars every year.
According to a Sunday report from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, the surprising revelation from David Byrne comes after footage from a central Sydney video slots venue emerged showing a money laundering syndicate operating with apparent impunity. This fresh recording purportedly revealed a group effectively commandeering a collection of machines in order to illicitly process tens of thousands of dollars via two methods.
The newspaper reported that some in this group were seen chasing an almost guaranteed windfall via a linked jackpot machine while another member of the band spent an hour feeding around $19,200 into a single machine before wagering just $0.71 to claim this cash back as ‘clean’ winnings. This particular gang is purportedly suspected of regularly operating at several venues across New South Wales but is just one of a number of such syndicates that are known to utilize video slots in clubs, casinos and pubs all along Australia’s eastern coast to launder the proceeds of crime.
In an exclusive interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Byrne reportedly declared that his team of investigators had identified 140 clubs and pubs as well as over 130 people associated with money laundering activities in the four weeks from the ending of the state’s coronavirus-related lockdown on October 11. The regulator moreover purportedly explained that such activities involved making cash earned from criminal enterprises look like legitimate gambling winnings.
Byrne reportedly stated…
“That was only in the Sydney metropolitan area and not the entire New South Wales landscape. You’re talking about, at the worst level, child exploitation, human trafficking, firearms trafficking and terrorism funding; all of those can be packaged up in the same conversation as money laundering.”
In comments that are likely to put pressure on the government of New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet (pictured), Byrne reportedly estimated that criminals in the nation’s most populous state could be using video slots to annually launder up to $720 million. Despite this shocking figure and the regulator purportedly furthermore disclosed that only 5.5% of venues featuring the machines, which are locally known as ‘pokies,’ had filed a suspicious transaction report with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AusTRAC) watchdog since January of 2018.
Byrne reportedly pronounced that the neighboring state of Victoria is almost certainly facing the same issues and appealed to the gambling sector and organizations such as industry lobbyist ClubsNSW to take the problem seriously. He purportedly finished by suggesting that New South Wales bring in cashless wagering cards that would ‘negate the ability for people to walk in with a bag of cash and put $30,000 into a machine’ and subject smaller operations to the same levels of scrutiny as local casino giants Crown Resorts Limited and The Star Entertainment Group Limited.
Byrne reportedly told the newspaper…
“I don’t think that clubs where good, family-orientated people across New South Wales go to have dinner, want patrons to be walking past organized criminals laundering cash. I think, based on what we’re finding, the venues with ‘pokies’ definitely need a wake-up call.”