FCC RegUpdate

On January 15, 2024, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published a report on Casinos, Money Laundering, Underground Banking, and Transnational Organized Crime in East and Southeast Asia.

The report underscores the rise of online gambling, e-junkets, and underregulated crypto exchanges, enabling swift, anonymous fund transfers. It cautions that crypto asset abuses may thrive where regulatory pressure is lacking.

The report delves into the following key areas:

1. Evolution of cross-border gambling and displacement into Southeast Asia

The Southeast Asian casino industry flourished, with over 340 land-based casinos by 2022.

2. Proliferation of online casinos and infiltration of organized crime

The surge of ‘offshore’ online casinos, particularly in Southeast Asia’s Mekong, presents challenges. Junket operators facilitate profits and laundering, exploiting mirror websites and cryptocurrency.

3. Casino and junket-based underground banking and money laundering

Casinos and junkets are vital components of underground banking and money laundering, serving transnational organized crime. Money laundering, involving placement, layering, and integration phases, is pervasive in both land-based and online operations.

4. Attractiveness of online gambling for underground banking and money laundering

Authorities face challenges in verifying funds and distinguishing legitimate gambling from illicit activities due to online gambling’s anonymity and limited oversight.

5. Rise of ‘points running’ syndicates, ‘motorcades’, and cryptocurrency

Organized crime uses varied methods like ‘points running’ syndicates and money mule teams to funnel illicit money into gambling platforms.


The study also offers recommendations aimed at enhancing understanding, legislation, and enforcement in the region to aid governments in tackling the issue.