SkyCity Adelaide Slapped with a Whopping AU$67 Million Fine for AML Breaches

  • Key takeaway one: The Federal Court of Australia fines SkyCity Adelaide AU$67 million for breaching anti-money laundering laws.
  • Key takeaway two: AUSTRAC's investigation highlights multiple failures in SkyCity Adelaide's AML/CTF programs.
  • Key takeaway three: This penalty marks the second major civil penalty against Australian casinos for AML/CTF Act violations.

In a landmark ruling that sends shockwaves through the gambling and financial sectors, the Federal Court of Australia has mandated SkyCity Adelaide PTty Ltd to cough up a staggering AU$67 million (approximately $44.6 million/€41 million). This verdict comes after an intensive probe by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) into the casino's practices, revealing a series of serious anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) breaches.

A Cascade of Compliance Failures

The investigation, launched back in June 2021, laid bare a series of glaring lapses in SkyCity Adelaide’s approach to AML/CTF obligations. Among the charges were:

  • A blatant failure to assess the real risks of money laundering and terrorism financing.
  • The absence of a risk-based system to mitigate and manage these risks effectively.
  • A significant oversight in implementing an appropriate framework for Board and senior management oversight.
  • Lack of a robust customer due diligence program, especially for high-risk customers.
  • Failure in conducting ongoing customer due diligence, leaving a gaping hole for money laundering activities.

The court's findings underscored how SkyCity’s non-compliance facilitated the movement of millions of dollars through the casino by high-risk individuals, essentially turning a blind eye to potential criminal activities.

More Than Just a Fine

Beyond the hefty fine, the court also ordered SkyCity to bear costs amounting to AU$3 million, highlighting the financial and reputational damage stemming from such breaches. The AUSTRAC's stern message in the wake of this ruling was clear: the gambling sector's vulnerabilities to criminal exploitation due to weak anti-money laundering systems cannot be overlooked. This case not only underscores the importance of stringent AML/CTF compliance but also serves as a reminder of the far-reaching implications of failing to do so.

A Pattern of Non-Compliance?

This penalty against SkyCity Adelaide isn't an isolated incident but follows a previous AUSTRAC action that saw Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth fined $450 million over two years for similar violations. This pattern of enforcement actions signals AUSTRAC’s heightened vigilance and commitment to clamping down on AML/CTF non-compliance within Australia’s gambling sector.

In anticipation of the penalty, SkyCity Entertainment Group had earmarked AU$45 million in its financial statements for the year ended 30th June 2023. However, with the actual fine and related costs, the total hit to SkyCity amounts to an additional AU$25 million.

Compounding SkyCity's woes, the company is also embroiled in a separate legal battle with the Treasurer of South Australia over the treatment of loyalty points converted to gaming machine play and the ensuing casino duty calculations. The outcome of this case could have further financial implications for SkyCity, highlighting the myriad of regulatory and legal challenges facing the casino operator.


The Federal Court's decision against SkyCity Adelaide is a stark reminder of the critical importance of robust AML/CTF frameworks within the gambling industry. As regulators like AUSTRAC continue to tighten the noose on non-compliance, it's imperative for casinos and similar entities to bolster their systems and controls against financial crimes. Failure to do so not only results in hefty penalties but also undermines the integrity of the financial system and fuels criminal enterprises, impacting the broader community.

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