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AUSTRAC states casinos should oversee gaming junkets

Australia’s financial crimes watchdog AUSTRAC has declared the management of gaming junkets regarding money laundering is the responsibility of casino operators and not the regulator.

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The gaming companies need to assess and ensure that junket operators comply with Australia’s laws. 

The inquiry about junket operations came after the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s (ILGA) probe into Crown Resorts where it was alleged that money laundering activity took place in its Melbourne casino where money was exchanged for gaming chips. 

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation previously argued that anti-money laundering is the matter for AUSTRAC, but the watchdog’s CEO Nicole Rose said, “AUSTRAC does not regulate junket tour operators.

“The onus is on industry to ensure it complies with its AML/CTF obligations. The Federal Court has also reiterated this view.” Rose admitted that while looser regulations might bring more overseas high rollers, but the “industry was well placed to manage and assess its own risks.” 

Labor senator Kristina Keneally expressed concern over gaps in the gambling-related legislation, saying: “Someone can come in on a junket with money from god knows where and distribute to god knows who afterwards. It just seems a massive gap in the regulation.” But Rose maintained that domestic regulation won’t apply to foreign companies. 

AUSTRAC admitted there was a lack of consistency and cooperation between regulatory bodies when it comes to overseeing junkets. Rose stated a licensing requirement for junket operators would be a step in the right direction. 


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