Crown Resorts is facing a fine of up to AU$100 million ($69 million) for its responsible gambling failures at Crown Melbourne after the state gambling regulator initiated a second round of disciplinary action against the troubled casino operator.
‘Condition of the Casino License’
The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) announced today it has commenced disciplinary proceedings against Crown Melbourne, requesting the casino operator to submit information related to its Responsible Service of Gambling obligations before considering what course of corrective actions to take.
“Crown’s responsible gambling obligations are a condition of the casino license, designed to protect vulnerable patrons and to prevent gambling related harm to patrons, their families and the community. There is no more important obligation.”Fran Thorn, Chair, VGCCC
The VGCCC is acting upon the findings of the Royal Commission into Crown Melbourne’s casino license which uncovered the operator violated multiple times its responsible gambling obligations under the Responsible Gambling Code of Conduct, including inappropriate interaction with hundreds or even thousands of customers showing signs of problem gambling or at risk of developing problem gambling.
“We heard many distressing stories at the Royal Commission of vulnerable patrons being encouraged to gamble beyond their means,” Thorn continued, adamant that the regulator would be “unflinching in its resolve to deal with the issues uncovered” by the commission and to enforce Crown to comply with its “legal obligations and the community’s expectations” regarding its responsible gambling obligations.
Enforcement Action Pending Operator’s Response
The VGCCC stated that, following the request for information issued today, it would consider its further course of action as soon as it has considered Crown’s response to the request. Options include a fine of up to AU$100 million, varying the casino license and censuring Crown and directing it to take rectification steps.
Crown Melbourne was imposed a new set of restrictive measures related to electronic gaming machines as part of the regulator’s efforts to address responsible gambling-related issues and reduce gambling harm. Under the new restrictions, the casino is obliged to ban players who play more than one machine at the same time or hold down several buttons on machines for continuous play.
Further, Crown Melbourne was slapped with an AU$80 million ($55.2 million) fine by the VGCCC for its violations of the Casino Control Act 1991 related to the illegal money transfers via China UnionPay debit cards which the casino had been deliberately facilitating between 2012 and 2016 – another of the findings of the Royal Commission.
Meanwhile, private equity firm Blackstone agreed to acquire the troubled land-based casino operator in a $6.5 billion deal following the decision by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority in New South Wales to grant the operator a conditional casino license.