Most states in Australia have turned a blind eye on the regulation of so-called casino junket operators, although the tours for affluent high-roller customers have been constituting a prime risk for terrorism financing and money laundering operations.
The gambling watchdog in Queensland is the only state authority that has an active licensing procedure for the junkets, while the states of Victoria and Western Australia stopped the approval process over 10 years ago.
The controversial operators that facilitated tours for wealthy gamblers from Mainland China to Australia for various gambling events. Lately, most states across the country have been placing responsibility on individual casinos in order to make sure that third-party junket operators comply with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing legislation.
Recently, the recent claims faced by Crown Resorts for allegedly facilitating junket operators launder money through the gambling giant’s casinos in Melbourne and Perth, have thrown more light on the lack of regulatory oversight on such operations across the country. The allegations against the gambling company have made New South Wales regulator wonder whether the Australian gambling giant is suitable to hold an operating licence for its new AU$2.2-billion casino venue in Barangaroo.
Queensland Currently the Only Australian State Regulating Casino Junkets
A report issued in 2017 by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) also warned about the lack of consistency by state gambling regulators when it comes to monitoring and control of so-called junkets. It wound there is a limited extent which could be considered mitigated by state-based regulation in terms of casino junket operators’ regulation.
The abovementioned regulator also noted that some gambling watchdogs were planning to voluntarily give up on junket due diligence to independent casinos because of financial difficulties.
Back in 2004, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) brought some legislative changes under which the licence approval for junket operators was removed, while the casino companies were imposed stricter responsibility rules. As explained by a spokeswoman of the regulatory body, it became the casino’s responsibility to check the junket operators. For the time being, there is no licensing regimen for junket operators in the Casino Control Act of the state of Victoria.
There is no procedure involving approval of junket operator’s licences in the New South Wales, too. Still, the local gambling watchdog, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, has been given the power to exclude both individuals and companies from a casino. As a spokesperson for the regulatory body shared, the ongoing investigation into Crown Resort’s services are set to check the casino laws of the state, too, and could end up with some recommendation of any reforms, including junket operators’ regulation.
Queensland, on the other hand, is the only Australian state that has so far implemented licence approvals especially for junket companies in order to allow them to operate.