The NSW Crime Commission has announced it is launching a dedicated inquiry into pokie machine money laundering allegations in the state.
It comes after calls from Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority chairman Philip Crawford earlier this month for a “royal-commission-style” inquiry into the state’s slot machine industry – which is alleged to have laundered as much as A$1 billion (US$714,000), according to a report from The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, and 60 Minutes in November.
NSW Crime Commissioner Michael Barnes has called for members of the public, whistleblowers and academics to make submissions to the Electronic Gaming Machine Inquiry.
“As part of the inquiry, the commission is calling for submissions regarding the nature and extent of money laundering through licensed venues in NSW. Members of the public, academics with an interest in the area, current or past employees of pubs or clubs are invited to make submissions which can be kept confidential if desired,” he said.
The Crime Commission’s actions have been backed by NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.
“Money laundering and organised crime are completely unacceptable in any form. The NSW Crime Commission has the full backing of the NSW Government as they launch this inquiry,” Mr Perrottet said.
“Pubs and clubs play key roles in the fabric of their communities and so recent reports highlighting how organised criminals are laundering money through poker machines are deeply concerning. The Commissioner will work in collaboration with the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.”
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott welcomed the joint inquiry which will investigate potential vulnerabilities within the legal framework governing the relationship between poker machines and money laundering.
“Organised crime costs our community more than $36 billion each year, and criminal networks are dependent on money laundering channels to legitimize the proceeds of their activities. I expect the NSW Police Force to make a submission to the inquiry,” Mr Elliott said.
Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello, as the Minister responsible for liquor and gaming in NSW, also welcomed the inquiry.
“For the first time we will get an understanding of the link between organised crime and how they use pokies to launder dirty cash,” Mr Dominello said.
The Commissioner has released terms of reference for the inquiry and called for public submissions to be made by 28 January 2022.