Life in Australia looks set to become tougher for thieves who like to gamble with the proceeds of their criminal activity.
Andrew Wilkie MP is set to put forward a bill that will attempt to make it law to force casinos to return money to victims, if it has been determined that the money spent on their services was acquired as a result of theft.
The Making Gambling Business Accountable bill would make changes to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act. These changes would mean that cash obtained through theft is treated in the same way as stolen property is viewed under the already existing terms of the Act.
That sounds so complicated as to be almost unenforceable, but Mr. Wilkie is going to try anyway. According to the MP, who has a track record of opposition to gambling, this is because many gambling addicts steal to fund their habits.
“We must have a legal mechanism in place that ensures stolen money is returned to victims by gambling companies if the gambling companies are ordered to do so by a court of law,” he said.
“Gambling companies cannot be allowed to profit from the proceeds of crime.”
Wilkie believes the situation regarding stolen money being gambled is no different from a pawn store having to return property that can be proved to have been stolen. Any criminals hoping to use their stolen money to fund a sport of virtual sports betting or to place some US presidential election bets might therefore find themselves in hot water soon Down Under.
Under the terms of the proposed changes to the Act, casinos would be compelled to report their patrons to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). Significantly perhaps, Wilkie, although he is anticipating support for his measure from other politicians, is yet to discuss his proposals with the Coalition of Labour, according to reports anyway.
Although the changes to the Act are well-meaning, as crime relating to gambling addiction can cause real problems in the lives of individuals and in wider society. But victims of theft do not always report money as stolen, especially if it is a family member who has committed the theft. The theft may also have occurred digitally or via the use of a credit card, something that makes reporting it accurately even trickier.
Logic would also dictate that if this law is to be applied to casinos then it should be applied to every venue or shop where money can be spent. After all, theft does not just occur in relation to funding a gambling habit.
There are also reportedly moves afoot to compel gambling companies operating in the online sector to make sure that the name on the credit card being used at their sites is the same as the name of the account holder. They also want to see banks notify cardholders when a card is used for gambling for the first time.