“With such legal and regulatory challenges on the horizon, it is of utmost importance that the licensed European land-based casino industry stands strong together”

the EU does not agree with the implementation of the directive this might lead to so-called infringement cases, which are handled by the European Court of Justice. Now though, the European Union plans to go a step

further and instead of issuing a sixth AML directive, an AML regulation is under discussion. EU regulations are legal acts that apply automatically and uniformly to all EU countries as soon as they enter into force, without needing to be transposed into national law. They are binding in their entirety in all EU member countries. This is a much stronger tool and should provide the desired uniformity for the AML measures throughout Europe.

The possible switch from directive to regulation has been brought about by a few things, most recently the leakage of the FinCEN files that have been investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The BBC commented on its findings that “it shows how the world’s biggest banks have allowed criminals to move dirty money around the world”. The total amount shifted around untroubled was said to be US$2 trillion from 1999 to 2017, proving that anti-money laundering measures are often toothless administrative burdens for businesses, if not implemented and prosecuted properly. Current AML regulations and their implementation are only capturing a fraction of the money that is laundered per year by criminals; many suspicious transaction reports are put together and filed, but not followed up in a proper way. The currently implemented 5th AML directive, as

already mentioned, is open to interpretation in its implementation, but if there are certain differences between countries, money will always flow to where the most favourable rules and regulations are in place. This means there can be a competitive advantage to have a relaxed attitude to anti-money laundering rules, and the EU aims to sort this out now. In order to have an EU-wide solution it needs to come in the form of a regulation. This has happened in other fields already, for example in the General Data Protection Regulation on data protection and privacy in the European Union and the European Economic Area. It also addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas and came into force in May 2018. But planning to implement an EU-wide regulation is not the only thing the European Council has in mind. A further measure could be the establishment of an EU body with a direct AML supervisory mandate. Current

32 DECEMBER 2020

structures of national Financial Investigation Units (FIUs) and their coordination via the Paris-based European Banking Authority (EBA) do not appear to be fast or effective enough to address current AML and CFT challenges. It has not prevented or stopped large-scale AML violations. The envisioned EU AML supervisor should have the

ability to impose fines and business restrictions on non-compliant companies, a tool currently not available to EBA. But this would also mean that such a supervisory EU body can take over AML investigations from national authorities and approach obliged entities – like land-based casinos – directly for carrying out investigations. A lot of pressure has built to get a grip on money laundering happening globally and EU politicians are now reacting to it. With such legal and regulatory challenges on the horizon, it is of utmost importance that the licensed European land-based casino industry stands strong together and informs the policymakers about the facts and figures of the European casino industry, the measures implemented to address the threats of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing in the land-based casino sector and bust some myths that are associated with the industry. Those myths may come from a time of unregulated gambling, or be the result of the image of casinos which the Hollywood film industry perpetuates. Everybody who works in the land-based casino sector

knows these myths, but it is clear that this must be explained and substantiated with quantitative facts for policymakers– people who may not have ever even visited a casino. Today’s regulated land-based casinos in Europe are vigilant, well-educated and quick to monitor, report and stop suspicious transactions. We work hard to prevent any attempt at money laundering. This is what the European Casino Association is aiming for: to protect, defend and promote a vibrant, responsible and rich in culture and heritage European entertainment industry which secures jobs for 300,000 people in 900 casinos throughout Europe.

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