Australian criminals to be banned from working at bookies

Convicted criminals in Australia will be banned from working for bookmakers after the state government closed a loophole that allowed them to bypass tough background checks, local media reported.

According to The Age, the loophole allowed several shadowy characters to be employed in the industry, most notably the organized crime figure Vincent Panuccio, who was photographed by the newspaper during the 2010 Melbourne Cup carnival, working for a bookmaker in the main betting ring at Flemington.

The photo of Panuccio with two handfuls of $50 notes raised questions about widespread reforms introduced two years earlier to stamp out corruption in racing, given he had prior convictions for drug trafficking and theft.

But Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett has moved to close the loophole, by banning any person convicted of certain criminal offences within the past 10 years from being employed in the industry, The Age reported. The offenses include those related to dishonesty, fraud, racing, gambling, and any indictable offence.

While bookmakers had been subject to background checks, the measures were not as stringent for their employees.