A crackdown on dole-cheats has uncovered dozens of them spending nearly HALF-A-MILLION POUNDS gambling at land-based casinos.
The probe into the gambling habits of 2,300 pensioners and jobless welfare claimants found …
- A “JOBSEEKER” who gambled £5.6 MILLION at the casino tables despite collecting £97.50 a week on the dole
- MORE than 40 other cases involving amounts between £250,000 and half a million.
- A MAN with hidden overseas assets, aged 65, who was on the dole when he gambled £290,000 at the casino.
- A MAN, 65, who gambled £2 million despite being on benefits.
- A DISABILITY pensioner, 35, who bought £350,000 worth of chips, was found to have undeclared bank holdings of £130,000.
The probe by benefit fraud watchdogs in Victoria, Australia, matched official files with casino records from from May 2006 to November 2007.
Police are now investigating amid suspicions of money laundering by crime syndicates.
More than 820 Victorian welfare cheats were caught — more than any other Australian state — with almost everyone betting at the Crown Casino.
Benefit officials have now frozen the assets of the big-betters uncovered in the investigation — and they have been asked to explain their gambling.
Government benefits chief Joe Ludwig said: “Welfare payments are a safety net.
“They are not for people who can afford to spend £5.6 million on gambling in a casino,” he said.
“The Government has a zero-tolerance approach to Australians who try to rip off the Australian welfare system.”
Aussie casinos must turn over information under anti-money laundering laws introduced after the 9/11 terror attacks.
Crown spokesman Gary O’Neill told the Melbourne Herald Sun that the casino was happy to co-operate: “Crown has a very co-operative working relationship with a number of government agencies, both at state and federal level,” he said.
“We are very familiar with (the legislation) and we adhere to it absolutely.”
Investigators data-match records on high rollers — gamblers who receive extra hospitality because they bet regularly and at a high level.
A similar operation in 2005-06 uncovered 319 welfare recipients who gambled between £44,000 and £2 million.