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Will Aussie Casino Locations Lure Crime?

With several world-class gaming resorts soon opening in Australia, there is palpable excitement about a potential tourist boom that could bring in billions.

If media reports are to be believed, Asian crime gangs may want in on the action too.

Casino Chips

A recent news story expressed concern that some Asian casino junket operators may have connections to organised crime and money laundering. These junket operators, who are popular in China among large bettors, transport high-rolling wagerers to casinos while providing them with amenities.

Australia's new casinos are expected to draw a large number of Asian gamers. Many of the big-betting "whales" Aussie casinos will likely target junket operators, prompting concern that criminal activity may spill over into local casinos.

The problem appears to be acute in Macau , one of the world's gaming capitals and the favoured location for many rich Chinese bettors. Because casinos are forbidden on mainland China, many Chinese wagerers use junket operators for gaming trips to Macau. Some of these operators are reputed to engage in questionable activity, such as loaning money to bettors and then enforcing subsequent debts through violence.

While Macau may have significant problems with junket operators, the situation is far less likely to occur in Australia. While Australia's junket regulations are not uniform and vary by jurisdiction, their presence is enough to deter the kind of behaviour seen in Macau. Australia also has stringent laws governing financial transactions, making money-laundering far less likely. Australian casinos must face regular audits, and every transaction greater than $10,000 must be reported to a national monitoring agency.

Given the safeguards in place, the odds of Aussie casinos becoming burdened by organised crime seem like a long shot — though it makes for an interesting story.

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