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Crown Resorts has agreed to a $450 million fine. Management has admitted to the lack of checks for serious fraud and crimes. The amount still needs to be approved by the courts but the fine is the highest ever issued to a casino. This sum was agreed upon by AUSTRAC and Crown Casino and the court hearing is set for the 10-13th July.
Crown, the casino giant, has been slapped with a hefty $30 million fine for violating money laundering regulations and problem gambling controls. The breach was discovered during Victoria’s 2021 royal commission, which found that Crown allowed customers to deposit personal cheques into their gambling accounts instead of the company’s.
The commission also found that Crown likely accepted blank cheques in exchange for gambling chips, although insufficient evidence precluded formal charges. Regardless, Crown must abide by newfound guidelines on cheque policies and investigate its Melbourne site for other potential violations. A Crown Resorts representative has confirmed the company’s compliance with the commission’s verdict and pledged to work with the Victorian government to address these concerns.
On Monday, the Victorian government announced responsible gambling reforms that will be implemented at Melbourne’s Crown casino. Under the new code, punters will be required to take a break every three hours and restrict gaming to a maximum of 36 hours per week. Crown Casino will need to update its code of conduct within six months to enforce these new measures. Specifically, if a person has been gambling for three continuous hours, the casino will need to enforce 15-minute breaks.
Additionally, anyone who has gambled for 12 hours in any 24 hours will need to take a full day off, and no one will be allowed to game for more than 36 hours in a week. However, the Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO, Carol Bennett, criticized the reforms, stating that they are useless unless they are implemented statewide, as gamblers could simply move to other establishments with no regulatory time limits. Bennett also noted that enforcing the new rules would be difficult and that the reforms should have gone further than what was recommended by the royal commission. Nonetheless, she acknowledged that the announcement is a small step in the right direction.
Focusing on reinforcing harm-reduction actions, tackling tax evasion, and enhancing supervision of Crown Resorts, the Casino Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 implements 12 of the 33 recommendations made in the Royal Commission Report into Melbourne’s casino, which was released in October of last year.
The new legislation enacted by the Parliament of Victoria requires Crown Melbourne customers to confirm their identification, restrict their daily cash use to AU$ 1,000, and establish duration and expense limitations on their gambling sessions.
One of the most significant adjustments is the need for individuals to provide valid identification to gamble or collect a prize worth more than AU$ 1,000. The maximum amount of cash that may be used in a day is $1,000 AU.
Crown Casinos will pay out of pocket for the expenses of regulating the casino through a special fee. At the same time, anyone to control over 5 per cent of the casino will need authorisation issued by the VGCCC.
Crown’s specialized safety equipment mechanism for pokies must be in effect by the end of 2023. However, they are not obligated to implement the complete set of changes until December 2025, since they will need time to develop the infrastructure and technology. It’s also been decided that Crown Melbourne has just one opportunity to change its practices. It must become compatible with the Melbourne casino licensing regulations, otherwise, their current temporary license will automatically be terminated in 2024.
Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming, and Liquor Regulation, Melissa Horne said that the government will hold Crown Melbourne accountable for executing an additional 12 recommendations from the Royal Commission, including those related to money laundering and damage minimization. Horne also stated that “This legislation implements world-leading reforms to make sure the failures uncovered by the Royal Commission can never happen again.”
The administration of Western Australia has appointed Paul Steel, West Australia’s Police Force Assistant Commissioner, to act as an independent monitor over Crown Perth. Steel will be responsible for determining whether or not Crown’s efforts to reform are successful.
This came in response to a Royal Commission investigation from earlier this year. Crown was ruled unfit to keep its gambling license for the Crown Casino in Perth and was given a two-year window to make the necessary changes and prove its fitness, as suggested by the assessment.
Justifiably, the Independent Monitor’s fees will be recovered from the casino’s resources instead of government tax funds.
The WA government chose Steel for this position as he has “decades of expertise in organized criminal investigation, organizational change, achievement of cross-government strategic objectives, and senior leadership.”
Tony Buti, the Minister for Racing and Gambling in Western Australia, remarked that this is the next step in the state government’s response to the Royal Commission and marks the beginning of a new era at the Perth Casino characterized by honesty, accountability, and transparency.
The Minister has made several other statements on the subject, including that over the course of over 30 years in law enforcement and criminal investigation, including in senior leadership positions, “Paul Steel has a demonstrated record of generating exceptional results.”
The new laws and Independent Monitor have been put in place to guarantee that the Perth casino is being run in a first-rate manner and to restore public trust in the industry. This is what the law mandates, and what the people demand.
While still subject to regulatory clearance, Crown Resorts has named David Tsai, formerly of MGM Resorts, as CEO of Crown Perth. He will be responsible for implementing the Royal Commission’s recommendations for Crown Perth, together with the assistance of the Crown Perth Board and the Independent Monitor, Paul Steel.
Crown has lately made a series of high-profile hires, including Ciarán Carruthers as CEO of Crown Resorts, Mark McWhinnie as CEO of Crown Sydney, and Ian Silk as Chairman of Crown Melbourne.
Tsai has extensive management and leadership experience, having worked in top strategy and financial roles at McKinsey & Company and earlier at Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas. Tsai has spent the past 15 years working for MGM, giving him almost two decades of knowledge in the integrated resort industry that he will put to use at Crown Perth.
Tsai stated that he’s very excited to join Crown Perth team of 6,000 brilliant and committed employees and is certain that they will live up to their reputation of excellence. He is also committed to collaborating with them on implementing the necessary changes and repairs which will help offer clients the exceptional service the casino became famous for.
Carruthers described the Crown Casino in Perth as a world-class facility. Among its first-rate services, Crown Casino Perth can count attractions, gourmet dining, and plush accommodations. He also added that a world-class leader such as Tsai, with an established track record and vast expertise in global hospitality and entertainment, will definitely help the venue get back on track.
Crown has not disclosed when Tsai would begin actively working for the company, although they have confirmed that he will start later on in this year.
ILGA chair Philip Crawford stated that they will be keeping a close eye on the operations and security at Crown Casino as this is a conditional license. This had been granted for a period of two years.
The casino control act has put in place strict controls to stop high rollers from abroad from operating from the casino.
Crown Resorts agreed to new commitments in order to open a casino. Crown Resorts had started supervised casino operations, taking into account reforms stemming from an inquiry that made recommendations to improve transparency and accountability for casino operators.
Crown Resorts now has a veritable A-Team of CEOs at the helm of its Australian venues, a professional government monitor assigned to assist them in improving their safety and security, new ownership and, supposedly, a fresh new mindset. But will this be enough to get the ailing business out of the scandal it dug itself in? Only time will tell, but we definitely look forward to the results.
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