Australia’s financial crimes regulator has opened an investigation into British sports betting operator Entain. The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) said it intends to assess whether the gaming giant was complying with anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing laws.
AUSTRAC officials said the regulator began the enforcement investigation after an extensive supervisory campaign covering the whole corporate bookmaking sector, without giving further details, reports Reuters. The probe comes as online betting booms in Australia, having first exploded at the start of the pandemic, when physical shops were forced to shut down.
"Reporting entities have a responsibility to ensure they identify, assess and manage risks of money laundering and terrorism financing, develop adequate processes and devote the necessary resources to comply with their AML/CTF obligations," AUSTRAC Chief Executive Officer Nicole Rose said in a statement.
AUSTRAC added that it “will not hesitate” to take action where suspected non-compliance is identified. In a statement, Entain Australia said it was “co-operating with the investigation,” which relates to the historical period from July 2016 to June 2020. AUSTRAC had conducted an assessment of the company’s historical policies and procedures for that timeframe.
The AUSTRAC investigation could lead to AUD 22 million ($15.2 million) in fines and other regulations for the gambling giant, as per Sydney Morning Herald. According to reports, London-listed Entain has about one-sixth of Australia’s online betting market through the Ladbrokes brand.
UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes
The investigation’s announcement comes less than a month after the British gaming regulator –the UK Gambling Commission– fined Entain £17 million ($19 million), the body’s biggest penalty yet. Entain was fined for what the UKGC described as “completely unacceptable anti-money laundering and safer gambling failures.”
The UKGC said in August that the new fine came after Entain’s second time falling foul of rules in place to make gambling safer and crime-free. “They should be aware that we will be monitoring them very carefully and further serious breaches will make the removal of their license to operate a very real possibility,” noted UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes in a statement last month. “We expect better and consumers deserve better.”