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Poker machine money laundering in New South Wales – Crime

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NSW Crime Commission has led a multi-agency investigation
“Project Islington”,
into the billions of dollars of
“dirty” cash that has been
money laundered through poker machines
in NSW pubs and

Following inquiries into Crown and Star casinos, there have been
growing concerns that the enormity of cash being funnelled through
the state’s poker machines has facilitated criminal

“At the moment serious offenders can enter NSW pubs and
clubs, sit down next to patrons in gaming rooms, and openly feed
large sums of cash from their crimes into poker machines with no
real fear of detection,” NSW Crime Commissioner, Michael
Barnes said.

Every year approximately
$95 Billion
flows through NSW poker machines making it the
gambling capital of Australia.

The findings revealed that only a small proportion of pubs and
clubs comply with their money laundering prevention obligations
ultimately “rewarding and perpetuating” crime.

The inquiry report also highlighted a detrimental lack of
awareness by staff, club boards and hoteliers with recommendations
for improved regulations and further legislation across the

The report highlights that there are currently no effective
controls or data collection to identify or prosecute those involved
in money laundering on the pokies.

“The inquiry has identified the many challenges law
enforcement agencies face in targeting this type of money
laundering, such as a lack of controls and traceable data,”
Deputy Chairperson of the Independent Liquor & Gaming
Authority, Murray Smith, Said.

The inquiry examined the different forms of money

One such form identified involves individuals using electronic
gaming machines (EGM’s) to load “clean” and then
withdraw cash to hide its origin, where criminals can then use
“dirty” cash to gamble.

Under Part 4AC of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), this is a serious
criminal offence carrying a maximum of 20 years imprisonment under

section 193B
Crimes Act.

The NSWCC has made 8 recommendations for reform following the
investigation carried out with the Independent Liquor and Gaming
Authority NSW and the assistance of AUSTRAC and the Australian
Criminal Intelligence Commission.

Some of the recommendations include the introduction of
mandatory cashless gaming cards and enhanced data collection from
gaming machines to help crack down on significant criminal

Current EGM tickets are anonymous, allowing any individual to
possibly launder money through the machine with no effective
controls to identify or prosecute those involved in criminal

The cards will contribute to minimising money laundering
associated with EGMs through increasing traceability and reducing
the anonymity of transactions.

The recommendations of the report aim to decrease both types of
money laundering and provide law enforcement and regulators with
the data essential to ensuring other criminal conduct does not
replace it.

These reforms will be “valuable tools in breaking the link
between organised crime and gaming machines,” Murray Smith

“Clearly if I’m a drug dealer wanting to hide cash,
I’m not going to voluntarily participate in a scheme that would
enable my cash flow to be identified,” Commissioner said.

There has been criticism of the recommendations that the
practice of money laundering in NSW pubs and clubs is not

“We have an industry on its knees post-COVID now being told
to introduce an unproven, untested, un-costed and unnecessary
cashless system which treats every patron like a criminal,”
Australian Hotels Association NSW, CEO John Whelan said.

There has been suggestion that the inquiry revealed that the
allegations of allowing money laundering across the industry are

“The NSW club industry has been accused of allowing
criminal gangs to launder substantial sums of dirty cash through
poker machines. Today, the NSW Crime Commission has revealed that
those allegations were — and are — completely
baseless,” ClubsNSW said.

The Commissioner expressed his confidence and support for the
inquiry’s recommendations upholding that if implemented, the
impact of serious and organised crime will be reduced in NSW.

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