Don't let money-laundering criminals be the racecourse winners
Autumn, with the flat horse racing season coming to an end and the National Hunt season starting, is a busy time for keen punters, bookmakers and those involved in the industry but at any time of the year criminals can be at racecourses or in betting shops looking for money laundering opportunities.
Virtually all bets made at racecourses, either through bookmakers or the Tote windows, are in cash and in the bustle of the last few minutes before the 'off' thousands of pounds can be distributed in small bets around the course.
Employees who take bets and inter-act with punters need to be fully aware of the opportunities for money laundering and the implications for themselves and their employers if they fail to act on suspicious behaviour.
The gambling industry is very familiar with compliance procedures, through years of being overseen by the Gambling Commission (formerly the Gaming Board).
In its annual report 2008-09, The Gambling Commission states one of its intentions for the coming year is to improve its partnership with other agencies, including the police and licensing authorities, to combat activity such as money laundering.
As a supervisory body under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, commission staff visit casinos and include assessment of money laundering processes. It continues to work with money laundering enforcement officers in the casino industry and is planning to provide guidance to other industry sectors on the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, during 2009.
The Association of British Bookmakers produces guidelines for its members on how the Proceeds of Crime Act affects them, what they should look for and avoid, and how they should work with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).
Prior to the introduction of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, a paper produced by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation suggested bookmakers could unwittingly have helped launder cash or fund terrorist activities.
The 2004 report, by Michael Mainelli and Sam Dibb, says fears about betting and money laundering have tended to focus on internet betting operators.
"We believe the main risk may lie with more traditional betting activities. The key point is that high street betting shops will still accept very large cash wagers without knowing the identity of the person placing the bet.
"To convert cash to an apparently legitimate cheque is very easy," the authors write - and they show how it could be done.
By placing wagers totalling £12,700 on the outcome of a Premiership football match, and taking the best odds from Ladbrokes and William Hill to cover every outcome, the backer would be guaranteed a return of £11,700. Although entailing a loss of £1,000, this represents less than 8 per cent of the original cash. Criminals are usually believed to be willing to accept a loss of 20-25 per cent in converting 'dirty' to 'clean' money.
"By using more than one bookmaker, slightly better odds are achieved and suspicion is averted.
"More worryingly, a variation could be used to fund terrorism. A betting slip could be passed from funder to terrorist without leaving any record or trail by which the transactions can be identified as it bypasses the mainstream financial system."
Gambling industry money laundering training
Companies involved in the betting industry can obtain specialist anti-money laundering training to make staff aware of their obligations and the regulations through ML Solutions 4U Ltd. The cost-effective online or in person training programme can help you keep on top of the requirements of the law and avoid criminals using your business to launder cash.
For more information about the professional accredited training for anyone in the gambling industry, or elsewhere in the Regulated Sector, provided by ML Solutions 4U, please complete our enquiry form, or call 0845 402 0001 to discuss your needs.
Money Laundering Information » Money Laundering Pitfalls for Bookmakers