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Clubs propose digital wallet for pokies as suspicious player activity unveiled

The powerful lobby group representing clubs is investigating a digital wallet for poker machines as internal data from the NSW regulator reveals how players are using machines to wash dirty money.

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s centralised monitoring system, which records the activity of every machine in 15-minute intervals, has uncovered significant “suspicious activity”.

Suspicious player activity can be tracked by the state’s gaming authority.

Suspicious player activity can be tracked by the state’s gaming authority.Credit:Peter Braig

In one report – obtained by the Herald – for a single local government area over a 12-hour period on August 4 last year, there were repeated cases of player behaviour that points to money laundering.

In one instance, $1485.79 was put into a machine at 2pm, and the exact amount taken out three minutes later without a single bet being placed.

There were many similar examples, where at least $1000 was put into a machine, no or very few bets were placed, and then several minutes later the identical amount was taken out.

The scathing Bergin inquiry report into Crown Resorts found the casino giant “facilitated money laundering”, prompting the chair of the NSW gaming authority to say money laundering is also an issue plaguing clubs and pubs.

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello, who has responsibility for gaming, will face budget estimates on Monday where he is likely to be pressed on the government’s gaming reforms in the wake of the Bergin report.

Poker machines are dispersed across 4000 venues in NSW, with only 1500 of the total 96,000 machines in the Star casino. Gaming machines can be used to assist the money laundering process where the origin of illegally obtained funds is concealed by a sequence of transfers or transactions.

Gambling researcher Charles Livingstone, from the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, said the patterns shown in the data indicated obvious money laundering.

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