NSW Club Alerted to Compliance Checks in Advance
The major clubs association notified its members of an ongoing compliance inspection by Liquor and Gaming NSW. Members were instructed to ensure correct positioning of gaming machines and ATMs. The Clubs NSW communication surfaced via documents disclosed to the parliament, following a request from Independent MP Alex Greenwich.
Revealing Revelations from Documents
Recent documents have brought to light concerning revelations:
- Millions inserted into gaming machines, then withdrawn without actual play.
- Intelligence reveals potential money laundering, masked as gambling profits, in at least one establishment.
- Internal discussions at Liquor and Gaming suggest a partnership with a club suspected of money laundering for an anti-gambling initiative.
These findings prompt Independent MP Alex Greenwich to question the effectiveness of Liquor and Gaming’s regulations. He urges an expert panel for overseeing anti-money laundering efforts in the cashless gaming trial. Operation Magnus, the newly established focus on organized crime, should also investigate proceeds, including those from poker machines.
Parliamentary Criticisms and Document Delays
Liquor and Gaming’s delay in delivering documents raised concerns of contempt towards parliament, according to Independent MP Alex Greenwich.
Revelations from the Documents
The disclosed documents revealed significant points of concern:
- Collaboration with Investigated Clubs: Liquor and Gaming was found partnering with clubs under investigation.
- Advanced Warning to Clubs: Clubs were alerted to upcoming compliance checks, potentially compromising the integrity of inspections.
- Reduction in Money Laundering Team Resources: Resources for the money laundering investigation team were reduced even as suspicious activities were identified. Greenwich voiced his belief that the attempt to remove crucial documents and the breach of required return time amount to contempt for the parliament, vowing action upon the house’s return.
Questionable Partnership in Document
In the documents, an email from Liquor and Gaming’s director of investigations to the director of compliance in February of the previous year sparked inquiries. The email questioned, “Is there a conflict in knowing that [redacted] club is the largest money laundering club in NSW, while partnering with them on a money laundering initiative?”
ClubsNSW Circular and Compliance Checks
Timely Warning to Clubs
In the same month, ClubsNSW circulated a memo among its member clubs, advising directors, chief executives, and gaming managers to ensure the compliance of their ATMs, poker machines, and signage before upcoming inspections that weekend. The circular eventually reached the Customer Service department via a Tabcorp employee’s forwarding.
ClubsNSW’s Response and Agency Practices
While ClubsNSW refrained from commenting on the circular, it referred to a recent media release by Liquor and Gaming NSW about upcoming compliance checks. The agency undertakes both covert and overt compliance inspections.
Reduced Resources and Investigative Challenges
Among the documents, a three-month update from Liquor and Gaming NSW to its senior partner, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, in January of the previous year cautioned about the limitations of reduced resources. It highlighted the challenges in investigating individuals and groups involved in money laundering, three months before a significant downsizing of its investigative unit.
Money Laundering Detection and Investigative Changes
In a recent update, approximately $7.8 million in suspected money laundering was discovered across 213 metropolitan venues in the past three months. The top 10 venues contributed 41% of this total, with over 200 individuals associated with these establishments.
Improved money laundering detection resulted from enhanced collaboration between law enforcement and financial crime agencies. Numerous venues exhibited noteworthy cooperation in the agency’s campaign against money laundering. Liquor and Gaming NSW actively supported entities like NSW Police, the NSW Crime Commission, AUSTRAC, and industry partners to eliminate implicated individuals and groups from venues.
However, the update expressed concerns about sustaining these efforts beyond April 1st, 2022, due to changes in the machinery of government (MOG). Following a reorganization in April 2022, the size of the investigative unit was reduced when Kevin Anderson succeeded Victor Dominello in the gaming portfolio.
Liquor and Gaming NSW stressed regular communication with the industry about upcoming random inspections aimed at specific offenses or behavior. The ClubsNSW circular formed part of these communications.
The agency clarified that the email mentioning the “largest money laundering club” came from a former employee, and their opinion wasn’t endorsed by the agency. Furthermore, the club mentioned hadn’t faced any adverse findings related to money laundering.