CasinosJungle > News > United Nations Sensationally Weighs in on Asian iGaming

United Nations Sensationally Weighs in on Asian iGaming

Penny November 2, 2023

In an announcement that is likely to cause shock across the gambling industry, the United Nation has voiced concerns over the iGaming industry in South East Asia. It’s an unprecedented event to see such a high-profile international body step in to establish disdain with the industry in a specific region. VOA News reports that representatives for the UN have expressed their worry that the region’s industry is being used by transcontinental organized crime rings as a method for money laundering and other unsavory financial activities. It is likely that such an authority speaking out in no uncertain terms will see changes come into effect in the region but it’s unclear how that will unfold and if it will happen quickly enough to stem the flow of what is perceived to be a damaging back door for criminals looking to easily shift large amounts of cash undetected.

united nations

A Billion Dollar Conundrum for South East Asia

The move to speak out comes on the back of research into the iGaming industry and the region and its use by nefarious actors. The UN data indicated that groups of criminals were using casinos in Myanmar and Cambodia to clean dirty money to the tune of billions of dollars, according to ProPublica. Both online and brick-and-mortar casinos are used by these groups as a more discreet method of banking in order to move, wash, and withdraw funds. Quoting the UNODC, the report suggested that these casinos were becoming “a shadow banking system that allows people to move money quickly… almost without restriction”. In essence the advent of new financial technology in the gaming world had given rise to a more anonymous form of financial dealing that could easily be taken advantage of. In fact one area that has largely helped the industry be hijacked by organized crime has been the introduction of cryptocurrency to the gambling world.

That same ProPublica report claimed that the anonymized nature of the blockchain and crypto has allowed its users to effectively hide their transactions from scrutiny. In essence, established crypto scams could be used to illegally obtain funds that could be deposited at these online casinos, before being converted into chips and winnings. These actions then disguise any ill-gotten money as legitimate, allowing the criminals to build up their funds with little to no danger of being caught by authorities. This is particularly troublesome in the South East Asia region due to the lack of government oversight and possible corruption in some nations. Because of this, it’s difficult for international cooperation to get to the root of a problem that is being felt worldwide. The sorts of scams that are often targeting US citizens will be undertaken in these far-flung regions, meaning that the lack of state regulation leaves the criminals free to carry on without repercussions.


Casinos One Part of Bigger Problem

This isn’t to say that the issue falls solely at the feet of a casino and iGaming industry that lacks regulation and oversight. Instead, it is indicative of a greater problem of poverty, corruption, and crime in an area of the world that has a whole host of other problems to deal with. Daniel Dickinson, the UNODC’s chief of border management, told the UN News that the context of crime in the region is wide-ranging in its damage. This is an area in which drug trafficking remains a high-profile concern, and one that multiple nations’ governments are teaming up to attack. It figures then, that focus will be on the export of drugs over the issue of cyber crime related to the iGaming industry and money laundering within casinos. There are more pressing matters for transcontinental authorities such as Interpol to work on.

The UN’s involvement in the matter of Asian iGaming is promising, though. It indicates that the issue has been highlighted as one for concern within the agency. For any change to be made, there is the need for a unified response. The fractured nature of the territory is what has led it to become a hotbed of organized crime, especially in the digital world. This is why continents like Europe have led the way in building robust protections against financial crime. The unified nature of the European Union as a trading bloc has helped deliver a consistent regulatory framework that keeps its industries under a watchful eye. It’s clear that this would be beneficial for South East Asia, too. If nothing else, this could be the first steps towards regulations that will see the region become a much safer place to business.

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