Leagues clubs in New South Wales (NSW) want police to issue blanket bans on suspected money launderers from entering licensed venues to tackle the issue of dirty money flowing through the poker machines in pubs and clubs.
Speaking at a conference on gaming regulation, Leagues Club Australia CEO Don Hammond said the industry would welcome the power to keep perpetrators out of their venues. Hammond added that the industry is shocked to learn the extent to which the proceeds of crime were being spent on their premises.
Hammond said clubs and pubs would be happy if the criminals could be told not to go into licensed premises, adding that they already do it at racetracks and casinos.
The NSW Crime Commission report recommended that the government work on a legislative mechanism to support the exclusion of people suspected of dealing with the proceeds of crime from licensed venues to supplement the existing rights of venues to ban patrons from their premises.
The Crime Commission’s director of strategic intelligence and capabilities, Tahli Blicblau, told the conference that serious intelligence gaps existed before the report was completed in October last year.
Hammond said that these cases represented a tiny minority of venues. Still, the industry wanted to be proactive in preventing money laundering from occurring at places that were not previously aware it was happening.
The annual conference, Regulating the Game, has brought together regulators and industry in the aftermath of several damaging public inquiries that have resulted in tighter rules to prevent money laundering.
The NSW Crime Commission recommended extending cashless gaming to pubs and clubs, a measure to which the peak industry groups are opposed. However, the government has committed to adopting the measure if it is elected on March 25, while Labor wants to do an expanded trial of the technology.
In 2019, Austrac created a specialist gambling team, which looked at casinos, corporate bookmakers, pubs, and clubs. In 2023, it will begin a second specialist team to focus solely on pubs and clubs.
Liquor and Gaming NSW executive director Jane Lin said her agency was turning its attention to gaming room signage. An inspection of 310 venues late last year – most of which had been inspected in the past six months – identified 41 breaches.
Sixteen had ATMs in gaming areas, eight had gaming machines visible from the outside, and six had prohibited signage visible from the outside.
Lin said they were focusing on signs that contain images related to particular gaming franchises or gaming machine artwork or otherwise excessively draw attention to the availability of gaming machines inside the venue.