Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, introduced his Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Amendment (Making Gambling Businesses Accountable) Bill 2022, which would ensure gambling companies no longer profit from the proceeds of crime.
“My Bill amends relevant legislation to put a positive obligation on gambling companies to report to AUSTRAC if they have reason to suspect a person is paying for a gambling service with money they’ve obtained illegally,” Mr Wilkie said. “Where a bettor has paid for a gambling service using funds they obtained illegally, the Federal Court will be able to order the gambling company to financially compensate the victim of the crime.
“The Bill was developed in consultation with Gavin Fineff, who is a former financial advisor that lost more than $8 million of his clients’ money through gambling. He understands what he did was wrong, but also feels he’s not the only one to blame. Gavin was targeted by three of Australia’s biggest betting agencies and they used their predatory practices to take advantage of his gambling addiction.”
Mr Fineff, who is facing charges for his actions, said gambling companies would continue to prey on the self-destructive behaviour of addicts unless the laws were changed.
“Gambling companies have proven they will not comply with existing requirements so a more explicit mechanism must exist to intervene on the addicted gambler,” Mr Fineff said. “Otherwise the destruction to victims and the community will continue.
“I did the wrong thing, I want to be accountable, I want to improve. I hope the gambling companies would like to be accountable and improve with me.”
Mr Wilkie said the Bill would reduce the harm caused by gambling addiction.
“Gambling is an entrenched problem in the community, with Australians being the world’s biggest gambling losers per capita,” Mr Wilkie said. “It’s even more troublesome when you take into account recent statistics that revealed significant increases in gambling engagement and losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Gambling carries a number of substantial risks including addiction, financial ruin and mental and physical health implications, and there needs to be measures in place to protect innocent people. It’s beyond time gambling companies are held accountable for their unethical and destructive preying on vulnerable problem gamblers.”