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Australia Begins Investigation Into Online Gambling Company Bet365

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac), the country’s financial crime watchdog, has initiated an investigation into the compliance of UK-based online gambling firm Bet365 with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

This move follows Austrac’s directive for an external audit of Bet365 in 2022, amid increased scrutiny of the online betting industry, which experienced a surge in activity during the pandemic.

Austrac CEO Brendan Thomas emphasized the importance of businesses having robust processes in place to manage risks, warning that those lacking adequate measures could be exploited by criminals.

Under Australian law, companies, including online betting firms, are required to assess customers and monitor their financial transactions to identify, mitigate, and manage the risk of money laundering or financing terrorism.

Austrac investigates various entities, including banks, casinos, and betting companies, to ensure their compliance systems are effective in preventing illicit financial activities.

Notably, Ladbrokes owner Entain has been under scrutiny in Australia since 2022, and another competitor, Sportsbet, is facing an external audit. Companies found to have weak compliance systems by Austrac could face fines.

The watchdog has previously fined major lenders Westpac and Commonwealth Bank for breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

In addition to regulatory challenges, the online betting industry in Australia is grappling with new laws prohibiting the use of credit cards for online gambling and stricter federal government regulations on advertisements.

Last year, Bet365 reported a significant loss, but its chief executive Denise Coates received a substantial compensation package, totalling over £1 billion in the past four years.

Coates, one of Britain’s richest women and among the world’s best-paid executives, founded Bet365 over two decades ago, and the platform has grown to become the largest private sector employer in the UK.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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