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Australia’s Austrac launches investigation into Bet365 over anti-money laundering compliance

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Australia’s financial crime watchdog, Austrac, has initiated an investigation into the UK-based online gambling giant Bet365, regarding its adherence to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws. This move comes after Austrac ordered an external audit of the company back in 2022. Despite requests for comment from the BBC, Bet365 has not yet responded.

The online gambling industry has faced heightened scrutiny, particularly as online betting saw a surge during the pandemic. Brendan Thomas, CEO of Austrac, emphasized the importance of robust compliance measures in preventing exploitation by criminal elements.

As reported by BBC News, Austrac’s investigations extend beyond Bet365, with Ladbrokes owner Entain and rival Sportsbet also under scrutiny. Companies operating in Australia are obligated by law to assess customers and monitor financial transactions to detect and address potential money laundering or terrorism financing activities.

Failure to uphold these standards could result in fines. Notably, major financial institutions like Westpac and Commonwealth Bank have previously faced substantial penalties for breaches of these laws.

In addition to regulatory challenges, the online betting industry in Australia faces hurdles such as restrictions on credit card use for gambling and stricter government regulations on advertising.

Despite reporting a significant loss last year, Bet365’s CEO Denise Coates received a substantial pay increase, totaling over £1 billion in salary over the past four years. Coates, who founded Bet365 over two decades ago, is considered one of Britain’s wealthiest individuals and among the highest-paid executives globally. Bet365, which began in a portable building in Stoke-on-Trent, has since grown to become the largest private sector employer in the UK.

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