Australia Launches 'Enforcement Investigation' Into Entain

September 12, 2022
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Australian financial crime enforcer AUSTRAC has announced an “enforcement investigation” into sports-betting giant Entain Group, potentially impacting any Entain moves on rival Tabcorp Holdings' monopoly status.

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Australian financial crime enforcer AUSTRAC has announced an “enforcement investigation” into sports-betting giant Entain Group, potentially impacting any Entain moves on rival Tabcorp Holdings' monopoly status.

AUSTRAC said today (September 12) in a terse statement that the ongoing investigation “will focus on whether Entain has complied with its obligations” under Australian anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) legislation.

The probe “follows an extensive supervisory campaign that assessed entities within the corporate bookmakers sector,” it said, adding that the campaign “may lead to other areas of focus in this sector”.

“Reporting entities have a responsibility to ensure they identify, assess and manage risks of money laundering and terrorism financing, develop adequate processes and devote the necessary resources to comply with their AML/CTF obligations,” AUSTRAC chief executive officer Nicole Rose said.

The statement added that AUSTRAC “will not hesitate to take action where suspected non-compliance is identified”, but declined to provide details of alleged non-compliance by the Isle of Man-based gaming heavyweight.

The announcement follows last month’s record UK Gambling Commission fine of £17m ($19.7m) for Entain Group, as well as a warning to revoke its licence, over AML and corporate social responsibility failures spanning subsidiaries Ladbrokes, Coral and Foxy Bingo.

The fine was a grim sequel to a £5.9m fine for Entain predecessor GVC Holdings in mid-2019 over similar breaches at Ladbrokes and Coral.

Entain’s Australian arm was not immediately available for comment. Australian media reported today that the company identified mid-2016 to mid-2020 as the period of time under investigation and that it is cooperating with AUSTRAC.

The double hammer blow of the UK fine and the AUSTRAC probe does not help Entain’s case in its campaign to wrest a piece of Tabcorp’s monopoly wagering market in Victoria state, Australia’s second-largest by population, or to take Western Australia state’s wagering business private.

Victoria’s next wagering licence is set to come into force in August 2024, with the government having called for expressions of interest and hinting at a competitive market and tax reform.

In Western Australia, Entain is bidding against Tabcorp and the BetR consortium led by influential gaming entrepreneur Matthew Tripp to control the state government’s privatising A$1bn TAB wagering network.

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