The US Department of the Treasury’s 2024 National Money Laundering Risk Assessment has highlighted the vulnerability of the online gaming and sports betting sector to money laundering. The report emphasized that the anonymity provided by the online gambling sector poses unique money laundering risks.
The Treasury pointed out that while US casinos are subject to anti-money laundering (AML) laws under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), not all operators are aware of their obligations. Enforcing these requirements in the face of the rapid growth of the online gambling market and the discrepancies between jurisdictions is a challenging task, making the US online betting market susceptible to “significant and increasing money laundering risks.”
In addition to the legal betting sector’s vulnerability, illegal gambling operators, such as cryptocurrency-based casinos, pose additional dangers and add further complexity to the issue of money laundering in the online gambling industry.
The Treasury highlighted cases of fraudsters depositing criminally obtained money into online sports betting accounts and then disguising the withdrawals as winnings. One recent case involved a Georgia man laundering $1 million through a betting account, funds that were originally intended for religious purposes but were misappropriated for personal gain.
The Treasury hopes to raise awareness of the issue and educate organizations about the vulnerabilities of the US business sector through its report. In addition to the online gambling sector, the report also emphasized other risk-heavy sectors, such as dealings with Russia and North Korea. The department pointed out that Russia is increasingly interested in acquiring US-origin military products, while North Korea has been leveraging hackers to undermine and exploit the American digital economy.
Brian E. Nelson, the department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, stated that the Treasury remains committed to protecting the US economy from fraud. Nelson urged businesses within the public and private sectors to familiarize themselves with the full report and stay tuned for the forthcoming National Strategy for Combating Terrorist and Other Illicit Finance.