Pubs and clubs are in gaming regulators’ crosshairs according to a media report that claims gaming machines in smaller venues are being used for money laundering purposes by organised crime groups.

Claims that more than $1bn in dirty money is being cleaned through the pokies nationally in pubs and clubs was the subject of a joint media report by The AgeThe Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes and aired on Channel Nine last night.

To date, most of the money laundering claims have focused on casino firms such as Crown Resorts and The Star. The latest report, however, includes claims by gaming investigators that 140 pubs and clubs and more than 130 individual gamblers were associated with money laundering activity in the four weeks that followed the lifting of Sydney’s Covid lockdown.

Liberal MP Shayne Mallard has also said that gaming investigators are working with the NSW Crime Commission and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission on a large project relating to potential money laundering at pubs and clubs, according to the report.

AHA NSW Director of Liquor and Policing John Green hit back at the claims. “The AHA NSW is disappointed with last night’s program which contained a number of inaccuracies,” he told Australian Hotelier.

“The regulation of money laundering is a Federal responsibility through AUSTRAC. AUSTRAC are an active and engaged regulator, requiring regular compliance reporting from hotels.”

Green also said that the AHA meets regularly with AUSTRAC and supports their education and compliance programs.

Last year, NSW customer service minister Victor Dominello proposed a cashless gaming card that would require punters to link their gaming to a verified identity and to also self-regulate the amount they could gamble.

The added benefit of this card would be to reduce the opportunities for money laundering in gaming venues by organised criminals, he said at the time.

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