Crown Resorts Retains Melbourne Casino License: A New Chapter Begins

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Gavin Harper
by Gavin Harper
Crown Casino Resorts retains Melbourne Casino License

Crown Casino Resorts has secured permission from the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) to retain its Melbourne casino license. This approval marks the end of a long journey to rectify regulatory issues identified in 2021. However, the Victorian gambling watchdog has stated that it will maintain close oversight of the company’s operations

Australia’s Stringent Casino Regulation Standards

Australia takes regulating its gambling industry extremely seriously, applying rigorous standards to land-based and Australian online casinos to safeguard the public. This vigilant approach ensures that all operators adhere to strict fairness, transparency, and responsible gambling guidelines. By enforcing these stringent measures, Australian regulators aim to provide a secure and reliable gambling environment, protecting the gaming industry’s integrity and players’ well-being.

VGCCC Affirms Crown Casino’s Melbourne License

In March 2024, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) officially granted Crown Casino the exclusive right to operate its flagship Melbourne location. The commission believes that retaining the gambling license aligns with the public interest.

Fran Thorn, Chair of the VGCCC, remarked, “As the special manager has noted during our investigations, a markedly different Crown is emerging, one that fully understands the privileges and responsibilities associated with holding this license.”

This decision follows a tumultuous period that began two years prior, when the Royal Commission, after uncovering illegal and unethical practices at Crown Melbourne, placed the gambling giant under special management. The commission’s findings included breaches of licensure terms, tax evasion, and attempts to intimidate authorities. Furthermore, the VGCCC found Crown guilty of failing its responsible gambling obligations, thereby jeopardizing the welfare of vulnerable members of Australia’s gaming community.

In response, Crown Resorts has invested over $200 million in initiatives aimed at preventing financial crimes and repairing its tarnished reputation. Thorn noted that the panel’s favorable decision came after determining that Crown Resorts had met various sustainability standards required for maintaining its license. The commission now expresses confidence that the Melbourne casino is operating transparently and free from criminal influence

A Triumph for Crown Casino Resorts

In the wake of damaging findings by the commission in 2021 and subsequent government inquiries, Crown Resorts has committed to substantial improvements in risk management, governance, compliance, and organizational culture. The reform process has been exhaustive, incorporating both local and external reviewers to address the identified issues effectively.

Although these reforms have incurred significant financial costs, with the company reporting expenses of AUD $199 million and facing AUSTRAC fines totaling AUD $450 million this year, they are deemed crucial for long-term success.

The commission’s recent endorsement represents a pivotal victory for Crown Resorts, especially considering the high likelihood of losing the license previously. This outcome is perceived as a second chance for the company to excel.

Crown Melbourne’s CEO, Mike Volkert, highlighted the importance of the decision, calling it one of the most significant milestones in the company’s thirty-year history. He thanked Victorian Special Manager Stephen O’Bryan KC, VGCCC Chair Fran Thorn, and CEO Annette Kimmett AM for their unwavering commitment to the reform process. Volkert commended their efforts in elevating industry standards and ensuring Crown Melbourne operates as a secure and compliant environment.

Australia Casinos: Maintaining High Standards

The VGCCC is committed to ensuring that Crown Melbourne adheres to high regulatory standards through stringent oversight. “Crown is under totally new management and ownership, so it’s not the same people who were there that allowed the sins of the past to happen,” Thorn said, “The significant turnaround by Crown Melbourne does not mean that Crown Melbourne will never slip up again. And when this happens, we will act and expect Crown Melbourne to act.”

Thorn also emphasized that the VGCCC’s favorable decision doesn’t shield Crown from potential disciplinary measures. She warned that the commission would respond swiftly and decisively if any legal violations were detected. Additionally, she noted that the VGCCC is addressing other issues related to Crown Casino, aiming to prevent any repeat of past behaviors where the casino used its legal influence to intimidate the commission.

In a press release, Crown Melbourne’s CEO, Mike Volkert, commented, “We know the work doesn’t stop here, and we are committed to delivering the highest industry standards and putting the welfare of our guests at the forefront of decision-making, day in and day out.” Volkert affirmed that Crown Casino has learned from its past errors and is actively working to eliminate any vulnerabilities to ensure flawless operations.

Looking Ahead: VGCCC and Crown Casino Collaboration

The VGCCC’s dedication to transforming Crown Melbourne and maintaining ethical standards has yielded positive results. This effort demonstrates the commission’s goodwill and its capacity to reform the gambling sector it oversees. Further developments are anticipated in the relationship between the VGCCC and Crown Casino, especially concerning licensing. The two parties are expected to collaborate this year as they transition to fully licensed operations in Melbourne.

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