The European Council has given final approval to the European Union’s new anti-money laundering (AML) package. This milestone marks the completion of the legislative process, paving the way for a more standardized approach to combatting financial crime within the EU. The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has welcomed the move, underscoring the benefits it will bring, particularly for online gambling operators.

One of the most significant changes introduced by the new AML package is the establishment of the European Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA) in Frankfurt. Expected to take effect three years after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU, the AMLA will possess both direct and indirect supervisory powers to enforce compliance with AML requirements. It will work in tandem with national AML authorities, ensuring cohesive oversight across the member states.

The package also includes the 6th Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which aims to further enhance the AML framework by outlining specific provisions for supervision and the powers of national AML authorities. This directive mandates access to beneficial ownership registers, providing greater transparency and aiding in the detection of illicit activities.

Accompanying the directive, the new Anti-Money Laundering Regulation (AMLR) sets stringent requirements for customer due diligence, transparency of beneficial owners, and other essential measures. Of particular interest to online gambling operators is the introduction of a €2,000 threshold for due diligence on players, ensuring more consistent and manageable compliance obligations.

A standout feature of the new AML package is the harmonized reporting format for Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs). This change aims to standardize reporting requirements across EU member states, significantly reducing administrative burdens for operators and creating a more efficient system for monitoring and reporting suspicious activities.

The EGBA has been actively preparing for these changes, having developed industry-specific guidelines on anti-money laundering that apply a risk-based approach. EGBA members, which include Europe’s leading online gambling operators, have already been implementing these guidelines and will update them to align with the final versions of the EU legislation.

Dr. Ekaterina Hartmann, Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs at EGBA, emphasized the association’s proactive involvement in the revision of the AML rules at the EU level and the benefits the new rules will bring to operators, particularly those active in multiple jurisdictions.

“We welcome the finalization of the new anti-money laundering package. EGBA has actively followed and contributed to the revision of the AML rules at EU-level and believes the new rules will benefit Europe’s online gambling operators, especially those operating in multiple jurisdictions, by ensuring a single regulatory approach across EU member states. With finalization of the new rules, EGBA will review and update its industry guidelines on AML to ensure their alignment with the rules. By signing up to the guidelines, operators can begin preparing themselves for the EU rule changes and join our members in their efforts to proactively and positively contribute to the fight against money laundering in the EU,” Dr. Hartmann said.

The EGBA has invited all EU-based online gambling operators to participate in its industry guidelines on AML, aiming to foster a collaborative approach to compliance and the fight against money laundering.

The finalization of the new AML package signals a significant shift in the regulatory landscape for financial institutions and compliance officers. Here’s what professionals in the field need to know:

  1. Preparation is Key: With the new rules set to come into effect in three years, now is the time to start preparing. Familiarize yourself with the new requirements and begin updating your internal systems and processes to ensure compliance.
  2. Leverage Technology: Utilize advanced compliance software and AI-driven solutions to streamline compliance efforts and enhance the detection of suspicious activities.
  3. Collaborate and Share Best Practices: Engage with industry associations like the EGBA and participate in forums and summits to share insights and best practices. Collaboration can significantly ease the transition to the new regulatory framework.
  4. Continuous Training and Education: Ensure that your compliance team is well-trained and up-to-date with the latest regulations and technological advancements. Regular training sessions and workshops can help maintain a high standard of compliance.

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