Asia’s illicit finance driven by casinos and junkets – UN Rep.

January 22, 2024
1 min read

In a recent interview with AGB, Jeremy Douglas, Regional Representative at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), revealed the significant role of casinos, cryptocurrency, and VIP junkets in facilitating underground banking and money laundering in East and Southeast Asia. The report highlights that casinos and junket operators have become de facto banks, offering a range of underground financial services to organized crime groups. The proliferation of online casinos in the region has been fueled by advancements in technology, including mirror websites, cryptocurrencies, and third-party betting software, making it easier to set up illegal online gambling operations. The report also discusses the challenges of enforcing gambling regulations and curbing cross-border criminal activities, with organized crime syndicates exploiting the complexity of determining jurisdiction. Douglas emphasized the necessity for international collaboration and a comprehensive response from governments to address the issue effectively. Authorities face difficulties in getting governments to acknowledge the scale of the problem and unite in their response. The report recommends a ‘whole of government’ approach that involves intelligence exchange, investigations and prosecutions, enforcement capacities, and policy development to combat money laundering and the misuse of online casinos and cryptocurrencies.

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