Scrutiny of Australia’s Gaming Industry Heats Up on a Couple Fronts

Australian authorities and regulators are going to scrutinize the country’s gambling industry more than ever. Changes are coming on a couple of fronts that could have wide-reaching implications for operators.

Philip Crawford
Philip Crawford
ILGA chair Philip Crawford appears before the press. He is going to increase his efforts as the head of the New South Wales gaming regulator. (Image: The Guardian)

Crown Resorts began falling apart through the Bergin Inquiry in New South Wales (NSW). It didn’t take long before authorities asserted that the casino operator’s wrongdoings were likely just the “tip of the iceberg.”

In order to better unravel the mysteries, the state’s Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) laid out plans to introduce a separate regulator for the gaming industry. That plan has continued to gain traction and NSW is close to achieving its goal.

ILGA Refines Path for Gaming Oversight

As it prepares to take the last few steps, according to an announcement from the ILGA today, changes are going to come. The new regulator should be in place before the end of this summer, but the state’s gaming community can prepare to see changes now.

ILGA chair Philip Crawford will assume the position of head of the regulator on a full-time basis. Currently, the position has only been a part-time job.

ILGA will use the new arrangements to further enhance its ability to identify and address organized crime in casinos and to expand its cooperation with the ACIC, AUSTRAC and the NSW Police Force,” explains ILGA chairman Philip Crawford.

Joining him will be a new board member who has extensive experience in identifying money-laundering activity and establishing anti-money-laundering (AML) procedures. That person’s identity has not been provided.

The ILGA will also work more closely with AUSTRAC (the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre). They will reinforce their commitment to share data and identify potential problems related to financial transactions.

Star Entertainment Group Faces Greater Scrutiny

There was collateral damage from Crown’s egregious financial missteps. AUSTRAC began to take a closer look at the operations of rival Star Entertainment, and the scrutiny is growing.

AUSTRAC has announced that it has expanded its investigation into Star in relation to possible violations of AML laws at its properties. The increased attention highlights the shortcomings of casino firms in managing strict control of money laundering at their gambling hotspots.

AUSTRAC launched a probe into Star’s casino in Sydney in June amid concerns about customer compliance and due diligence. Local media reported later on a confidential review in which Star was accused of failing to curb fraud at its resorts. It was also remiss in following established AML protocols.

The financial watchdog states that Star’s investigation will now encompass multiple entities. However, it declined to comment further because the probe was ongoing.

The company stated earlier that it would cooperate fully with AUSTRAC’s investigation. Star operates three casinos, two in Queensland and one in NSW and has already become a target by the ILGA.

If AUSTRAC finds any solid evidence that Star stepped out of line, a second wave of investigations could follow. Crown was put under the microscope by gaming regulators across the country, and Star could be, as well.

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