James Packer and his Crown Resorts may be losing their gambling license to operate in Australia. The casino is under a regulatory probe due to allegations that Crown Resorts has tampered with their poker machines. The Sydney Morning Herald reported the inquiry and the issue.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation for Australia already started disciplinary actions against Crown Resorts due to an alleged move to “blank out” specific electronic gaming machines on their casino floor.
Crown Resorts may face a suspension order from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation. They may also need to pay a fine. However, the worst scenario is that Crown may lose their casino license. It would be the flagship resort, and this would not be good for James Packer, his board, or investors.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation began their probe into the allegations of fixed poker machines when MP Andrew Wilkie presented his testimony to the House of Representatives. Andrew Wilkie provided the proof of whistleblowers in October 2017.
The Whistleblowers stated the casino managers ordered Crown Melbourne employees to tamper with the poker machines. It included disabling the lower bet provisions, as well as modifying buttons to allow autoplay, which increases gambling losses. Autoplay is prohibited in Australia.
Another part of the testimony provided was the tolerance of identity documents being misused and allowing customers to smoke marijuana. It was only specific customers who were allowed to smoke according to the testimony. These customers are highly valued or considered whales, so the whistleblowers are saying the casino turned a blind eye toward some of their behavior.
Allegations Turn into Discipline
According to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation spokesperson, they have found grounds to discipline Crown Resorts for the claims made. They said the action would relate to the blanking of buttons on specific gaming machines. Crown insisted they did not breach the Gambling Regulation Act. Instead, they contend the blanking of buttons was part of a three-week test on only 17 of the 2628 poker machines. The operator said trials do not require regulatory approval. Crown gave this position to the commission in hopes of stopping the disciplinary action.
In a statement, Crown spokesperson said, the commission’s view is a trial should involve one type of game machine, and that the manner of the test needs to be approved by the commission; however, Crown Melbourne believes it did not require approval, and therefore they did not break the gambling act.