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Bet365 subsidiary Hillside (Australia New Media) Pty Limited has been placed under an enforcement investigation by Australian money laundering watchdog AUSTRAC.

AUSTRAC, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, is Australia’s government agency responsible for identifying money laundering, terrorist financing and other serious crimes.

The investigation will focus on whether bet365 has complied with its obligations under Australian AML/CTF laws, following “a supervisory campaign of entities within the corporate bookmaker sector.”

The investigation follows on from AUSTRAC ordering bet365 to appoint an external auditor in November 2022, following an “extensive supervisory campaign” into the bookmaking sector.

In a notice sent to bet365 at the time, AUSTRAC said it had “reasonable grounds to suspect” that the operator had fallen foul of AML/CTF obligations.

It therefore demanded that the operator appoint an external auditor and provide an AML/CTF audit report within 180 days of receiving the notice.

Enforcement investigation begins

The new enforcement investigation follows on from AUSTRAC’s receipt and consideration of that report.

When announcing the new investigation, AUSTRAC CEO Brendan Thomas said betting operators have a significant role to play in combating financial crime.

“Corporate bookmakers must have robust systems in place to ensure they can manage and mitigate risks associated with money laundering and terrorism financing,” he said.

“Businesses without adequate processes in place to manage those risks leave themselves vulnerable to exploitation by criminals.”

One of the most significant outcomes of an AUSTRAC investigation into the gambling sector saw the watchdog fine Tabcorp a record A$45m for AML failings in 2017.

The operator had failed to report more than 100 suspicious activities that may have related to money laundering or credit card fraud.

In that case, Tabcorp admitted its processes had been insufficient, and the A$45m fine was reported to be the highest civil penalty issued in Australian corporate history at the time.

Aussie rules

This isn’t the first time bet365 has found itself under increased scrutiny in Australia.

In December last year, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) ruled that the operator, alongside Sportsbet and Entain, had breached local in-play betting regulations.

Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act prohibits in-play betting on sports matches with only a few exceptions, including when betting over the phone. 

The ACMA found that the three named operators had circumvented part of the rules by using so-called ‘fast codes’, in order to allow customers to more easily bet in-play over the phone.

After the operators agreed to restructure their systems to comply with the rules, the ACMA decided not to take any further enforcement action.

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