One of the unsubstantated and hoary old chestnuts about online gambling – that it lends itself to money laundering – has been dismissed as a myth in a new MHA report published this week by the Remote Gaming Association.
Key findings in the stud were that:
* The absence of cases and examples of money laundering and terrorist financing within the remote gambling industry appear to indicate that the risks are low;
* There was a strong commitment within the online gambling industry to prevent and detect money laundering and terrorist financing, to comply with the various legislative and regulatory requirements and to co-operate with the authorities;
* Whilst no service sector can be immune from the attention of criminals, there appears to be little evidence to support the view that remote gambling has, to date being particularly susceptible to money laundering and terrorist financing; and
* Online gambling is not a likely accessible avenue for money laundering because: the identities of the gamblers are known; the financial transactions between the bettors and operators are all in electronic format; and all of the wagering is recorded.
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MHA Consulting concluded that through both statutory and self regulation, the risk of money laundering through online gambling has been effectively reduced, with no indications of any examples of money laundering in licensed jurisdictions.
To reach it's conslusions, the MHA reviewed the licensing regimes of European jurisdictions, together with international anti-money laundering initiatives such as the European Money Laundering Directives and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards. It then considered the practical application of the varying layers of regulation within the online gambling sector itself and whether there was any evidence to indicate that online gambling might be especially susceptible to money laundering.
MHA notes, however, that thereis a need for the industry to remain vigilant, and recommends that operators continue to work with regulators, law enforcement agencies and others to ensure best practice, and to ensure that all related rules and guidelines keep pace with technological developments and the often innovative moves of money launderers.
Commenting on the sudy, the RGA's chief executive, Clive Hawkswood, said: "In the past a combination of misperception and misinformation has led many to believe that money laundering is a particular problem for the online gambling industry. That is quite clearly not the case and we hope this report will go some way to dispelling those often quoted myths and introduce a greater level of objectivity whenever these issues are debated.
"However, we are still a relatively new industry dealing with a relatively new framework of money laundering regulations. The industry has risen to the challenge, but cannot rest on its laurels and we will certainly be following up on the recommendations made in the Report.
"This is an area where we must remain proactive and continue our work, both individually and collectively, with legislators and regulators as well as with groups such as the FATF, the Institute of Money Laundering Prevention Officers, and cross industry forums such as the Anti-Money Laundering Europe group in Brussels."