Reports that the associates of drug fugitive Tony Mokbel had received the approval to run poker machines at the Red Lion Hotel in Kilmore have bothered some gambling observers and analysts, especially since the hotel is owned by no other than Mokbel's estranged wife, Carmel.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation has ruled that Mokbel's associate, Natalie Doumani, as well as her own associates, were "suitable" and of "good repute".
Mrs. Doumani and her husband, Jack, have known the Mokbels for 30 years.
Mokbel was sentenced in March, in absentia, to 12 years' jail for trafficking in cocaine.
The question most observers ask is how reliable was the procedure done to look into the suitability and credibility of licence applicants.
The opposition is now calling on authorities to review the judicial procedure in granting licences to make sure that no criminal penetrate the legal gambling industry.
The opposition stressed that gambling brings in $1 billion annually to the State Government. If this amount has been tainted with crimes or illegal activities, then the integrity of the gambling industry is placed at a serious risk.
It would be recalled that a Department of Justice report has previously stated that poker machines form part of the primary source of money laundering in Victoria.
July 24, 2006