Monday, December 28, 2009

Gangs' casino dole scam; Media Man reports from down under, by Greg Tingle - 28th December 2009

Rupert Murdochs' Australian newspapers including The Herald-Sun, continue to run excellent (and balanced) coverage on the casino and gambling sector in Australia.

Let it be known that Murdoch also has some gaming (and igaming) interests, however they are further developed in the UK sector. Media Man has incidental joined some of News Limited's b2b affiliate programs as goodwill and we utilise some of their newsfeeds, so there's your disclaimer before we swing into things.

The age old connection between casinos, gambling dens and crime continues, albeit a different kind of animal than when the late George Foreman and his "Underbelly" crew ran the streets of Melbourne and Sydney. The late "Earthquake" Tim Bristow gave me a small taste of the scene via Sydney's Penthouse Executive Retreat, and "The Golden Mile" (Kings Cross), which Sydney's "Mr Sin" used to have a significant hold on.

Mr James Packers' Crown Casino has come under the spotlight (or blowtorch) again.... in Australia, if its not the anti gambling lobby having a dig, its the press, and if not them, the police. Crown Casino spokesman, Gary O'Neil, was recently quoted that Crown "is not a convent", but that's pretty much a given.

Australian law enforcement agencies have smartly noted and actioned revelations that some high level criminal networks (and some not so smart ones also) are using Crown Casino as quite the hub and centrepiece of criminal activity.

One of the scams that the crims operate is having Centrelink (Australia's unemployment benefits service) customers, and pensioners, buying chips at the casino which are then used as part of the money laundering process.

Media Man will be attending Crown Casino Aussie Millions next month and is in negotiations with media representatives for Crown. We look forward to providing news media and gaming media with more balanced reports on the casino and gaming sector.

*The writer does own shares in Crown Casino

*Greg Tingle is an Australian based correspondent for Gambling911 and the founder and director of Media Man a media, publicity and internet portal development company. Gaming is just one of a dozen of business sectors that Media Man covers.

Ben Packham of The Herald Sun reports:

CRIME gangs are using pensioners and the unemployed to launder millions in dirty money through casinos, authorities believe.

Centrelink has alerted organised-crime investigators to 15 clients it believes are involved.

They are understood to include a Victorian man who bought almost $13 million in chips at Crown, despite being on the dole. The Australian Crime Commission is closely watching casinos after an 18-month probe.

ACC chief executive John Lawler said that it had intelligence indicating organised crime groups were engaged in "high-level gambling activity" in legal casinos.

Its financial assessment team matched information from casino loyalty programs with other databases, including Centrelink records.

Last year, the Herald Sun revealed it had identified about 2600 Centrelink clients who each bought at least $50,000 in chips; 30 had buy-ins of more than $1 million.

Many were welfare cheats with gambling addictions and undeclared incomes. But further investigation revealed some had links to organised crime groups.

The Herald Sun understands Centrelink referred clients with suspected organised crime links to the ACC for further inquiries.

It's believed the ACC identified more suspected money launderers, independently of the welfare agency.

The federal crime-fighting agency refused to comment.

"The ACC will continue to work with the casino industry to ensure serious and organised criminal entities involved in money laundering are identified and pursued," Mr Lawler said.

The investigation also used Immigration, Customs, and tax office data.

The ACC estimates the cost of organised crime is $10 billion-15 billion a year, an estimated $6 billion of which goes offshore.

Its recent report, Organised Crime in Australia, said most such groups had overseas links, good advice and "professional facilitators".

Organised crime groups are typically involved in drugs, weapons trafficking and high-level financial crimes.

Human Services Minister Chris Bowen said hi-tech data-matching meant that welfare recipients with illicit incomes would be discovered.

"Welfare fraud is a criminal offence liable to long jail sentences," he said.

"People who fraudulently claim benefits from Centrelink should consider themselves warned. It's not a question of if you'll be caught, but when."

Casinos are required to turn over information to authorities under anti-money laundering laws introduced after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Crown refused to comment to the Herald Sun.

*Read the full article here. (Credit: The Herald-Sun)

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