Federal Court Hands SkyCity Adelaide AU$67m Fine for AML Violations

SkyCity Adelaide On Friday, June 7th, the Federal Court of Australia ruled that SkyCity Adelaide must pay AU$67 million in penalties for violations concerning Australia’s anti-money laundering laws. The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) filed civil penalty proceedings against SkyCity in 2022 after a probe into the company’s operations revealed then-alleged breaches of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act). Friday’s ruling marks the second time AUSTRAC has been successful in securing a civil penalty against an operator that failed to comply with AML regulations.

According to Peter Soros, currently serving as AUSTRAC’s Chief Executive Officer, criminals looking to “clean their dirty money” will always see the gambling market as a way to achieve money laundering. Operators, therefore, run the risk of being exploited by such bad actors should they fail to employ proper AML measures. He continued, stressing AUSTRAC’s commitment to pursuing legal action against negligent casinos. Mr Soros also put an emphasis on the severity of the illegal activity criminals seek to conceal by laundering dirty money and gave the trafficking of illegal substances and humans as an example.

As revealed by AUSTRAC, SkyCity’s breaches of the AML/CTF Act have also led to patrons wagering staggering sums of money while playing. Not only were such clients exhibiting behaviour that categorised them as high-risk gamblers, but the money wagered could not be reliably tracked to a definitive source. In addition, controls designed to mitigate risk were not utilised by SkyCity to protect high-risk individuals from excessive spending, particularly when it came to products deemed potentially dangerous for those susceptible to gambling harm.

Australia’s Gambling Landscape is Under the Supervision of Numerous Regulatory Bodies

Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission Apart from AUSTRAC, a range of organisations across Australia are tasked with regulating gambling operators and holding them accountable for illegal or unsafe practices. They are also behind the modernisation of gambling rules and laws, which serves to improve the market with regard to safety.

One such regulator is the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC), which last month found three Victoria-based venues guilty of not intervening when clients wagered on gaming machines after the permitted gaming hours. Each operator was mandated to pay a fine of AU$60,000. The said establishments were not among the 83% of Victorian operators who have chosen to take advantage of Intralot Gaming Services’ automatic poker machine function, which is provided to VGCCC-licensed entities free of charge and ensures equipment is automatically switched off when necessary.

In addition, this Thursday saw the Commission launch an inquiry into bingo products, and its results will aid the VGCCC in its pursuit of a better-regulated gambling sector when it comes to bingo. This course of action was prompted by bingo’s transition to electronic enhancements, according to Fran Thorn, Chair of the VGCCC, who deemed it crucial for the regulator to tackle risks of gambling harm and other issues that may arise as bingo is modernised. She also noted that the Commission does receive alerts of operators that offer bingo gaming without being licensed and that the VGCCC is aiming to tackle this issue, as well as address any other actions that pose a threat to bingo’s integrity.

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Daniel Williams

Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.
Daniel Williams
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