The shakeup of personnel in the upper ranks of Crown Resorts in Australia continues. As the casino operator tries everything it can to hang onto its gaming license in the state of Victoria, Crown Melbourne CEO Xavier Walsh is being forced to distance himself from the company. It has also been reported that Crown’s executive chair, Helen Coonan, will also leave before the end of the month.
Crown Shuffles its Cards as it Prepares to Deal
Crown announced the departure of Walsh only a half-hour before it began telling the Victoria Royal Commission why it should be allowed to retain its casino license in the state. It has already been reprimanded in New South Wales (NSW), where an investigation uncovered a litany of improprieties dating back at least ten years led to the loss of its license there. It faces the same fate in Victoria, where Crown Melbourne is located, and in Western Australia.
As of August 20, Walsh, who was found to have direct knowledge of the improprieties taking place under him, will no longer be running the show at the casino, but no new CEO has been appointed. Despite his departure as the official boss of the casino, he will be around until December 9 to fulfill his current contract. During this time, Crown will work with the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) to appoint a new CEO, and it’s likely the Commission will play a much larger role in deciding who comes in.
Coonan will most likely leave by August 31. Her departure is being billed as a resignation, an odd move since she was only brought in to steer the ship after the Bergin Report in NSW confirmed major issues at Crown. According to the operator’s lawyer, Michael Borsky, speaking before the Victoria Royal Commission, Coonan “will announce her retirement as soon as Crown has appointed a new leader. Crown’s expectation is that will be by 31 August this year.”
Victoria Government to Overhaul Gambling Regs
Because of the ongoing issues with Crown, which have been shown to be habitual in the upper echelon of the company, and the damning evidence that continues to surface, Victoria has determined that it needs to upgrade its gambling regulations. The Victoria Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) is going to now oversee the regulation of gaming, removing that responsibility from the VCGLR. It will also create a new casino regulation division that is specifically being implemented to keep Crown Melbourne in line.
Despite the Bergin Report already showing major issues occurring across all of Crown’s operations in Australia, Victoria is conducting an independent investigation that continues to drag on. Initially, it was thought that the Royal Commission would wrap up by July and then August, but will reportedly now need until October to reach its decision. During this time, the VCGLR will continue to operate normally, with the changes being implemented subsequent to the release of the Commission’s findings.