Two high-profile online gambling companies suspected of violating anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) laws are under fire in Australia. Bet365 and Sportsbet are the latest to find themselves in regulators’ crosshairs as the land down under’s gaming industry gets flipped upside down.
Australia’s financial intelligence agency, the Australian Transaction Reporting and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC), is busy investigating the country’s gambling industry. It is looking at several high-profile companies, and has now appointed external auditors to look at the two sportsbooks.
The operators have to turn over significant amounts of data to the auditors, who have 180 days to present their findings. AUSTRAC told both companies in a notice that it had “reasonable grounds” to suspect they may have broken or are breaking AML/CTF laws.
Not The First Or The Last
AUSTRAC routinely assesses all companies in Australia to make sure they follow the rules. In recent evaluations of Bet365 and Sportsbet, it identified some concerns that need clarification.
The financial watchdog said in its notice that it doesn’t believe the two operators have implemented or are maintaining “risk-based” AML programs. It also wants to determine how much the companies’ boards and senior executives are involved in AML oversight as required by regulations.
There is also a concern that the two operators aren’t sufficiently scrutinizing their activity at a user level. As a result, they can’t identify if a customer is inappropriately using a platform to conduct illicit financial transactions.
AUSTRAC will not hesitate to take action where suspected non-compliance is identified, to protect businesses from being exploited and protect the Australian community from harm,” said AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose.
Bet365 and Sportsbet both have a solid presence in the country. However, it is now tinged with what might be serious violations. Sportsbet is the largest sports betting outfit in the country, controlling about 50% of the market.
The investigations arrive after AUSTRAC revealed that it was investigating Entain two months ago. The investigation, like the others, will also explore whether the Ladbrokes owner may have violated AML/CTF laws.
Entain is complying with its obligations under laws that the government created to stop the financing of organized and serious crime. In addition to Ladbrokes, Entain owns Australian betting site Neds and European sportsbook Bwin. It also has a joint partnership of the sports betting and casino operator BetMGM with MGM Resorts.
Calm Before The Storm
Australia’s gambling industry is going through a period of forced transition, partly instigated by the actions of casino operators Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment. Their blatant disregard for AML rules in the country has taken a toll on the industry’s reputation.
Prior to those scandals, there were already updated regulations coming as a result of a global desire to focus almost singularly on problem gambling. However, the ongoing legal and regulatory issues are increasing attention on the industry.
As a result, and in spite of the high-profile nature of the recent debacles, the current environment is likely calm compared to what might be coming. Australia’s governments and others like it receive billions of dollars by way of tax revenue and economic support from their gaming segments. However, much stricter oversight is coming.
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