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Bookmakers to be forced to refuse wagers of more than €2k without ID in new clampdown on criminals

New EU moves planned to stop crime gangs betting big at the bookies to clean drugs cash

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A betting slip for €38,000 linked to a Liverpool football match was discovered during a Garda operation targeting the Kinahan crime cartel last year. Stock picture

A betting slip for €38,000 linked to a Liverpool football match was discovered during a Garda operation targeting the Kinahan crime cartel last year. Stock picture

A betting slip for €38,000 linked to a Liverpool football match was discovered during a Garda operation targeting the Kinahan crime cartel last year. Stock picture

Bookmakers will be forced to refuse wagers of more than €2,000 from anyone without ID as part of a new clampdown on criminals using betting shops to launder cash.

The gambling industry faces major changes in the handling of large bets and payouts following a new EU anti-money laundering directive.

It is all part of a fightback against criminals who use their gambling accounts as 'banks' to move and hide large amounts of cash.

High-street betting shops processed €2.7bn last year from customers who were not asked for ID.

The multi-million euro gambling industry continues to attract organised crime in Ireland. It is used as an outlet to launder 'dirty cash' and 'hot money'.

Gangsters have long been linked with betting scams.

A betting slip for €38,000 linked to a Liverpool football match was discovered during a Garda operation targeting the Kinahan crime cartel last year.

Now, as part of a wider European crackdown on criminal involvement with gambling outlets, the EU is seeking to impose new restrictions on a range of "suspicious practices".

The directive covers all "providers of gambling services", unlike previous rulings which only applied to casinos.

The overall impact for betting outlets will be a requirement to 'know your customers' better.

Currently, bookmakers are exempt from having to apply controls against money laundering, or reporting any suspicious transactions.

The Sunday Independent has learned officials from various Government departments have held talks with representatives from the gambling industry.

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Under discussion are the "implications" of introducing various "customer due diligence" measures.

One of the proposals "under review" is a new rule forcing bookmakers to seek ID from anybody placing bets in excess of €2,000.

Officials are also looking to determine "where and when" new CDD (customer due diligence) measures are "appropriate".

Gaming arcades, and online gambling websites are also to be brought into the net, and obliged to conduct certain anti-money laundering checks. The legislation allows member states to introduce exemptions - but these will only get the go-ahead only following a detailed risk assessment.

The new EU anti-money laundering directive was due to be introduced in Ireland by June 26.

However, "ongoing negotiations" on a suite of amending measures has delayed implementation, according to a statement from the Department of Finance.

Cash betting is traditionally seen as one of the easiest ways of "cleaning" dirty money.

The customer base of certain bookmakers includes "suspected criminals", according to the Department of Finance's first ever anti-money laundering report.

"Law enforcement intelligence suggests that retail and on-course bookmakers could be vulnerable to exploitation by criminals, who place high value wagers in a structured manner, to launder significant proceeds of crime," it said.


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