Call for NSW Premier to Establish a Gambling Royal Commission
SYDNEY, NSW, Australia (August 18, 2023) — According to a loca media outlet the head of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority warned the NSW government two years ago that organised crime was moving money laundering activities from The Star casino into pubs and clubs and called for greater resources to investigate – However, the article said months later the opposite occurred.
Harriet Alexander writes WAtoday that the revelation contained in documents released this week has prompted Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann to write to Premier Chris Minns requesting a royal commission into the gambling industry in NSW.
Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich has also called for clubs operating more than 250 gaming machines to be regulated by the NSW Independent Casino Commission.
According to Alexander the documents released to parliament show that then-ILGA director Phil Crawford flagged a “very troubling” level of suspicious gaming activity in pubs and clubs and made recommendations that were never enacted by the then-Perrottet government.
Now, the Premier is being pressured to increase scrutiny of the sector.
Liquor and Gaming NSW is the regulatory agency and brings disciplinary complaints, while ILGA is the decision-making authority, and they operate independently of each other.
Greenwich said the unwillingness of L&GNSW to take money laundering seriously was reason to transfer authority to the NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC), which was already regulating two casinos.
“It is clear that clubs are operating like casinos and the larger ones should be regulated by the NICC to ensure appropriate compliance and enforcement measures.”
Faehrmann is reported to have written to the Premier on Friday requesting his support for a royal commission into the conduct, integrity and influence of the gambling industry in NSW. The terms of reference would include the nature of the industry’s influence over politicians and decision-makers, and the existence or potential for corruption among government agencies in enforcing industry compliance.
“The fact that this information has been suppressed for so long is incredibly concerning and suggests interference within the highest levels of government, and possible corruption within the executive and multiple registered clubs,” Faehrmann said.
“Nothing short of a royal commission is needed.”
The release of the documents also comes as Independent Murray MP Helen Dalton is due to give notice of her bill for cashless gaming to be immediately mandated in pubs and clubs. The government has appointed an independent panel to oversee a trial of cashless gaming, to assess its feasibility.
The NSW Crime Commission instigated its own investigation into the nature and extent of money laundering in pubs and clubs the day before Dominello was axed as gaming minister. It reported in October 2022 that the amount of dirty money being ploughed through the state’s poker machines was significant, though it was generally gambled away rather than cleaned.
L&GNSW referred questions to ILGA on why it did the opposite to what Crawford had suggested in terms of allocating more resources to its investigations unit.
ILGA said board members have always proactively engaged with members of parliament and other stakeholders to better protect communities from the harms associated with gaming and alcohol consumption.