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Casinos, online gambling and betting, a new avenue for money laundering and corruption

Publication date: 19/07/21


The European College of Financial Investigation and Analysis (CEIFAC) in Strasbourg decided to tackle a rarely studied field of research: that of online gambling and betting, as a new avenue for money laundering and corruption. This new subject was explored at a conference that took place in early June in collaboration with the University of Bordeaux.

It’s a topical subject, in October 2020 an instance of match-fixing at the French Open tennis doubles competition was discovered by the Belgian judicial police. A female player from Russia was arrested at the beginning of June 2021 in Paris. It is the first time there have been suspicions about a match of such importance, says Chantal Cutajar, the executive director of the CEIFAC and a teacher-researcher at the University of Strasbourg, who points out that the conference raised two current international problems: the manipulation of bets on sporting events and the rigging of online games.

The main danger is money laundering, when a player deposits and uses money from a crime. The risk is magnified in the gambling sector due to the use of dematerialised means of payment, such as pre-paid cards, notes the researcher. This money laundering can be associated with other illegal activities, such as match fixing.

Three round tables

Another risk is fraud, which can take several forms, the main one being corruption. But there is also fraud by means of Internet bots or gambling fraud by agreement or collusion. During sports events or horse races involving gambling, there can be schemes designed to influence the result or the course of a competition. These schemes are used to raise money for nefarious purposes or to facilitate financial flows.

All of these issues were addressed in three stages through three round tables. The aim of the first was to draw up a typological inventory of fraudulent behaviour with a focus on the preventative measures presented by Christine Casteels, a member of the “Sport and Fraud” group of the Belgian Federal Judicial Police. The points of view of regulators were also heard, such as that of Corentin Ségalen, a coordinator at the Autorité nationale des jeux, who is responsible for implementing the current systems.

The paradox of online casinos

The second round table dealt with the question of intelligence agencies: How can they help to fight rigging and fraud…? They are the ones who receive reports of suspicion from banks and insurance companies. This was achieved by examining the experiences of Philippe De Koster, the head of Belgium’s information processing unit, of a French intelligence officer and of Philippe Lemaire, director of security at la Française des jeux.

Finally, a third round table discussed the paradox of online casinos. They are banned in France but despite that, French gamblers can use them. You can even see sponsored adverts on search engines saying things like “Authorised French site – authentic and legal.” This was an opportunity to present measures to fight against these casinos, isn’t it better to regulate them than to ban them?

Based on this initial assessment, the CEIFAC wishes to identify avenues for reflection with a view to drafting a white paper within a year proposing recommendations at the national and European level.

Marion Riegert


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