This week the AFR reported:

“The country’s financial crimes watchdog has begun scrutinising the NSW clubs industry, issuing notices to one of the biggest operators of lucrative poker machines, Mounties”.

“The club, in Sydney’s south-western suburbs, has received correspondence from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre regarding its compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws. It operates 603 machines but is the biggest club in terms of gaming machine profit, according to Liquor and Gaming NSW”

“Sources with direct knowledge of the correspondence, not authorised to speak publicly, said it related to an enforcement investigation designed to assess whether Mounties was meeting its obligations under anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws. It is unclear if other major clubs have received similar correspondence.”

AUSTRAC boss confirmed focus on clubs in April

The AUSTRAC Chief Executive, Brandan Thomas, confirmed his departments plan look into money laundering in clubs due to the large number of poker machines accepting cash, so clubs are aware of the new focus. However given that checking instances of suspected laundering is common practise in clubs, AUSTRAC is unlikely to find much of interest – with their main focus on compliance.

AUSTRAC’s current compliance check is to identify weaknesses in the AML/CTF regulations. Clubs are well-aware of, and very active in ensuring AML/CTF regulations are part of their normal operating procedures and clubs and hotels have been working with AUSTRAC for many years on AML/CTF issues.

Clubs can identify suspected instances of laundering through electronic and visual monitoring. If a club suspects a money laundering offence is occurring on their premises, they have an obligation under the AML/CTF Act to report this to AUSTRAC via a suspicious matter report.

The NSW Crime Commission report released in 2022 found that money laundering by organised crime groups was not common in clubs and pubs. Despite reporting the finding they could not determine what percentage of money put through EGMs in NSW was the proceeds of crime, they estimated the amount was in the “billions”.

Clubs and pubs welcome further interaction through the current AUSTRAC focus and investigations as it would help to confirm the “billions” referred to in the NSW Crime Commission report was wildly inaccurate.


Source: Sydney’s Mounties club under AUSTRAC scrutiny for pokies profits (