Millions of dollars in dirty drug money would have been legitimised during this year’s Spring Racing carnival, claims a former senior member of Victoria Police.
The former officer, who did not want to be named, said drug dealers pay for winning betting slips to legitimise their illegal income.
The officer says the lack of regulations around sports betting makes it impossible to know who has bought a winning slip, and drug dealers use this to their advantage.
“Big racing events are an easy way for drug dealers to launder their money because the betting industry is so under-regulated,” he says.
The former officer says the easiest way for criminals to acquire the winning betting slips is at race events or betting venues on major race days.
“They [drug smugglers] are often known by the organisers and won’t be let in, but they have networks of people that they can get to go for them.”
At this year’s carnival, many winners would have been approached by criminals, working for drug smugglers, and offered cash for their winning slips or receipts.
“Winners are often just happy to make extra cash. They don’t really care what’s behind it, as long as they can’t get caught,” the source says.
It is easy to use winning receipts as proof-of-income as identification is often not required for betting or collection, he says.
Betting agents who take cash bets and deliver winnings in cash make it particularly difficult to trace the winnings. “It’s easiest for criminals to work around bookmakers. Bookmakers
are old-school and don’t require ID, and they use cash.”
A 2016 IBIS World report shows the decreasing popularity of traditional forms of betting due to the rise of online and smartphone betting.
The IBIS World report, Horse and Sports Betting in Australia, shows that more traditional betting formats such as on- and off-course totalisators have declined over the past five years.
Some racegoers at this year’s Melbourne Cup used online betting platforms while trackside, preferring to bet on their smartphones rather than queuing for a bookmaker.
Melbourne Cup attendee Ashley Wood, 29, said he bet about $100 through Sportsbet while enjoying the festivities at Flemington Racecourse.
The young punter said that it was easier to place a bet online, rather than with a bookmaker, and he felt more secure having a digital record of his bet.
“I’ll use my Sportsbet account probably once or twice a month, whenever there are special offers or if there’s a big event happening, I’ll put down a little bit.”
“I bet on Jameka because he was the only Australian-bred horse in the race… he did badly but it’s okay, it wasn’t much money to lose and it’s a bit of fun,” said the Sydney resident.
The former police officer says the rise in internet betting may have a “silver lining”, if it changes the industry sufficiently to make anonymous cash bets a thing of the past.
“Online, you have to register with identification. I don’t think online betting can be used by
criminals in the same way, so that’s got to be a good thing.”