Crown Resorts has left a trail of bad decisions over the years, all leading to the questionability of its right to continue operating casinos in Australia. As investigations into its history continue, additional missteps are being uncovered and the company continues to pay the price for decades of institutional mismanagement. The latest comes via the government of Victoria, which is still conducting its deep dive into Crown’s background. More penalties are likely to come, but the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulations (VCGLR) decided there was no reason to hold off on slapping the company with a major fine. Crown is now on the hook for $774,000 (AUD$1 million) for not following the rules with its junket operations.
Crown Melbourne in the Hot Seat Again
Crown’s Crown Melbourne in Victoria is the target of the VCGLR’s fine, the largest allowed under Victoria’s gaming laws. The regulator issued a “just cause” notice to the company last October, asking why it shouldn’t be disciplined for “failing to ensure that controls regarding junket participants were implemented by Crown during relevant times.” In essence, the complaint alleged that Crown had not performed the necessary due diligence before entering into and maintaining agreements with certain junkets with which it worked. This, the regulator argued, was in direct violation of gaming regulations.
Crown will also be prevented from working with junkets until the VCGLR can be shown that new policies have been implemented that will ensure the company can adhere to the regulations. However, Crown has already distanced itself from a lot of the junkets with which it used to work, so this won’t impact the company a great deal. The VCGLR added in its announcement about the fine, “Robust processes must be implemented to ensure that Crown’s Melbourne casino remains free from criminal influence and exploitation. These are strict and legislated regulatory requirements, and this is an area where Crown has repeatedly failed.”
More Trouble Possibly on the Way
As the VCGLR continues its investigation, one that began months ago, the government of Victoria is involved in its own, as is AUSTRAC and others. Victoria has launched a Royal Commission to look into Crown’s legitimacy as a viable casino licensee, which follows the determination by New South Wales (NSW) that the company is unsuitable to operate casinos. The Royal Commission was launched almost immediately following the publication of NSW’s so-called Bergin Report, which concluded the Bergin Inquiry and contained repeated examples of egregious violations, many of which Crown brass was part of.
The Royal Commission could release its findings as early as August but has until the end of the year if necessary. Crown Melbourne will be able to continue operating in the meantime, although it has to tread lightly. A shakeup of executives has already taken place at Crown as a result of the ongoing investigations and it’s becoming more likely that the company will ultimately be sold in order to completely restructure the organization.