To become effective by 2025 end

Queensland passes money laundering laws restricting cash gambling at casinos

The Star Gold Coast
Reading time 1:51 min

Queensland has implemented legislation aimed at curbing money laundering and protecting problem gamblers, which includes restrictions on cash gambling at the state’s casinos, following the passage of the bill in parliament on Wednesday.

Under the new laws, Queenslanders will be prohibited from gambling more than a few hundred dollars in cash at casinos in a single day. The legislation, advocated for by former judge Robert Gotterson in a 2022 report into casino operator Star Entertainment, seeks to close loopholes that have allowed individuals banned from gambling interstate due to alleged criminal ties to wager in Queensland.

Attorney General Yvette D’Ath hailed the reforms as "among the most significant steps taken to reduce gambling harm in any jurisdiction in this country in the history of gambling regulation." The bill enforces mandatory pre-commitment requirements, gambling breaks, and an enforceable casino code of conduct.

"To address money laundering, casinos will be restricted from accepting more than a prescribed amount of cash from a person for gambling-related transactions in a 24-hour period," said D’Ath.

The cash limit, likely to be around AUD1,000, will be set through regulation in alignment with Gotterson’s recommendations. Additionally, the legislation imposes controls on direct marketing by casino operators and enables the government to collect information about gamblers’ losses for research purposes and to identify gambling-related harm and potential money laundering activity.

The move by Queensland reflects a nationwide trend toward stricter regulation of the gambling industry. Tasmania has already introduced mandatory pre-commitment rules, with New South Wales and Victoria also implementing reforms to tackle gambling-related harm.

In Victoria, Premier Jacinta Allen’s legislation encompasses pre-commitment limits, carded play, setting opening hours for poker machine venues, slower spin times, and smaller spending limits.

Queensland’s opposition party, the LNP, said the state’s gambling industry was worth AUD 56.5 billion, but the state government spent just AUD 11.9 million on harm minimization. Gambling losses in the state have surged by 63% since 2018-19.

The legislation, passed unanimously on Wednesday morning, will come into effect within all casinos by the end of 2025. Jim Wackett, General Manager of Wesley Mission, lauded the reforms as "a good start" but urged the government to extend regulations beyond casinos.

"The bipartisan support for these reforms in the Queensland parliament is indicative of the huge shift in the public mood towards the known harms caused by gambling," said Wackett. "What two years ago was a gambling industry-led debate about so-called ‘problem gamblers’ has now shifted to become a community-led debate about a problem industry."

Star Entertainment, the focus of scrutiny in the Gotterson review, was fined AUD 100 million by the government and deemed unfit to hold its two gambling licenses for three months after an inquiry revealed negligence in anti-money laundering and responsible gaming duties.

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