A well-known Adelaide casino is facing an investigation after allegations of possible money-laundering. The Skycity Entertainment Ltd. enterprise has been under the microscope since September 2019 when a review by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) was initiated.
Money-laundering and the financing of unlawful underground organizations by casinos have caused difficulties in the past, but it was hoped that the adoption of programs to combat these issues would get things under control. Austrac has also been looking at potential irregularities with customer due diligence.
Skycity, a New Zealand-based company that also has an online presence, had announced earlier this year that they had cut ties with junket operators – a move seemingly prompted by the discovery that rival company Crown Resorts Ltd. had links to organized crime operations. Casinos’ involvement with junkets has been a bone of contention for a while: while skating on thin ice in terms of obeying regulations, getting the business of wealthy Chinese gambling connoisseurs is no doubt extremely lucrative.
The casino industry has, of course, suffered financially during the global health crisis. Stay-home orders and the closure of indoor entertainment venues have kept people stuck in their homes – outings to play pokies or at the Poker table were strictly out of bounds, meaning heavy financial losses for all in the gambling industry.
Skycity’s reaction to the investigation by Austrac has been concise: the company’s official line is that they are cooperating fully with the probe but as of yet only a few other details have been provided. They have revealed that the focus of the investigation centers on their casino’s management of specific customers labeled as “high risk” or “politically exposed”. The periods in question are the months from July 2015 to June 2016, as well as those between July 2018 and June 2019.
Ongoing Need for Regulations
With the constant growth and expansion of the global gambling industry it is clear that regulations must both be put in place and enforced to prevent illegal operations from occurring.
The serious nature of the allegations against Skycity’s Adelaide casino has served as a reminder that any industry can be a vehicle for illicit activity. The company will no doubt be hoping to emerge from this investigation relatively unscathed – their three New Zealand casinos seem to be of less interest to Austrac, although the final outcome of the probe has yet to be revealed.