Crown Resorts may face another massive setback in Australia. The counsel assisting the Royal Commission in Victoria in its investigation of the casino operator thinks it shouldn’t retain its license due to the fact that it breached the Casino Control Act of Victoria.
Barrister Adrian Finanzio SC has stated that Crown may not be worthy of its license after solid evidence gathered in the past two months indicated that the operator has numerous suspicious activities, including money laundering, problems with tax payments and lax responsible gambling protocols and compliance. At best, Finanzio thinks that the company’s license should be suspended, but acknowledges that the rightful punishment would be to have it canceled.
It’s Not Just the License On the Line
The messy situation that Crown has put itself into affects not just the operator, but some of the highest-ranked people associated with it and Finanzio does not think that revoking the license is enough. He has also stated that Helen Coonan, the executive chair, and Xavier Walsh, the CEO of Crown, shouldn’t be affiliated with Crown anymore.
This is not the first situation where Crown faces the aforementioned accusations. New South Wales (NSW) had a similar inquiry, creating a snowball effect that continues through today. NSW’s Bergin Report uncovered numerous details which indicated that Crown cannot retain its license for Crown Sidney. The Bergin Report consists of 751 pages and has numerous details on money laundering and other questionable activity at Crown’s casinos.
These recent events have led Finanzio to believe that the public has lost its trust in Crown, as the operator has shown misconduct in numerous fields. In addition, instead of focusing on its employees and guests, Crown was more concerned with avoiding getting caught, which is exactly what happened in the end.
That is why Finanzio concluded that the best decision is for Crown not to possess a license anymore for its Crown Melbourne, as it is both the right call and it is in the public interest. After all, the recent findings have shown that Crown Melbourne suffered some hardships and engaged in criminal activities.
Not only that, but there were also massive breaches of Section 68 of the Victorian Casino Control Act 1991, a section that deals with credit how credit is issued to gamblers. Finanzio concluded that all of these factors suggest that Crown is not suitable for its role as an operator, as it is apparently not capable of dealing with money laundering as effectively or efficiently as a market leader should.
Crown Gets a Small Pat on the Back
It wasn’t all bad news for Crown, though. The new Chief Compliance and Financial Crimes Officer, Steven Blackburn, was praised by Finanzio. He stated that Blackburn managed to create a very promising crime reform program after he took office in March 2021. But, the situation is concerning, as there’s no telling how long Crown will take to bring these changes to life and, as Finanzio added, there are serious challenges that lie in the future.
To make things even more complicated, Finanzio was also displeased with how Crown responded to the allegations in the past two years. Crown was aware of the issues at its properties, but, instead of trying to rectify them, more often tried to sweep them under the rug.
Finanzio also explained how every licensee by the Casino Control Act should act. Operators should actively seek solutions to the concerns or problems since this is how a licensee can show character, integrity and honesty, regardless of if the change may provide some sort of inconvenience. In the case of Crown, the situation was totally the opposite in the past two and a half years.