New Australian Bill Seeks to Hold Gambling Companies Liable for Stolen Funds

  • MP Andrew Wilkie introduced the Making Gambling Businesses Accountable measure
  • The legislation aims to make gambling companies pay back stolen funds to the original victim
  • Operators must report incidents where they suspect the use of stolen money for gambling
  • Wilkie consulted Gavin Fineff in creating the new measure
Australian Parliament House
Australian MP Andrew Wilkie has introduced new legislation to hold gambling companies accountable for wagers from stolen funds. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Attempting to help crime victims

Federal Independent MP Andrew Wilkie this week introduced a new bill in Australia’s parliament with the goal of holding gambling companies liable if a player wagers with stolen funds. Titled “Making Gambling Businesses Accountable”, the bill would amend the current Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act.

order the gambling operator to provide compensation to the victim of the original crime

Based on the new legislation, if an individual has wagered using illegal funds, the Federal Court would have the right to order the gambling operator to provide compensation to the victim of the original crime. Wilkie believes he has support for the measure, and Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie will second the bill.

Gambling companies to be held accountable

The new measure puts the responsibility on the operator to report any cases in which they believe stolen funds were used to gamble. They are to report such incidents to the Australian government’s financial crime agency AUSTRAC.

Wilkie posted a video of his presentation of the bill to parliament on his website. In the video, he says the measure will ensure gambling companies are more accountable and prevent them from profiting from illegal actions.

Wilkie also posted the video on his Twitter account:

The MP pointed out that people with a gambling addiction often get jail time for fraud or stealing, motivated by the need to fuel their addiction. Betting companies, however, are not legally responsible like a pawnbroker would be if they sold stolen merchandise.

“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,” Wilkie said.

Working with Gavin Fineff

Wilkie consulted with former financial planner Gavin Fineff on the measure. Fineff lost over AU$8.4m (US$5.9m) of his money and client funds in less than five years, largely because of a gambling addiction.

In his presentation, Wilkie called out Tabcorp, Ladbrokes, and BetEasy, stating they used predatory practices to take advantage of players such as Mr. Fineff. He said the betting sites did not ask Mr. Fineff for proof of funds, even though he was betting large amounts on a frequent basis within a short period of time.

Details about Fineff and his gambling habit came to light back in July. He spoke with the Australia Broadcasting Corporation and said he was willing to go public about what happened to him to help prevent others from going through the same cycle of addiction.

Fineff accepted most of the blame for his actions. He did say, however, that the gambling companies should take some responsibility as they knew he was an addict and continued to target him.