In Australia and local land-based casino operator Crown Resorts Limited has reportedly been hit with a fine of just over $777,400 for having failed to sufficiently vet foreign high-rollers at its Crown Melbourne property.
According to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the financial penalty from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation is the largest available under the Casino Control Act and comes as the operator’s suitability to hold a local casino license is being separately investigated by a royal commission.
Crown Resorts Limited has run the 1,600-room Crown Melbourne facility since June of 1994 and was reportedly also sanctioned for having neglected to adequately scrutinize foreign junket operators, some of whom may have had links with organized crime groups. Regarding this latter finding and the regulator purportedly detailed that the operator had often not kept suitable records or made the checks necessary to ensure individuals shuttling high-value players to its Victoria property were above board.
Reportedly read a statement from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation…
“We concluded that in respect of the analyzed individuals, the processes implemented by Crown Resorts Limited were not robust. This failure meant it was unclear how certain decisions were reached by Crown Resorts Limited and whether such decisions were made with due regard to Crown Resorts Limited’s regulatory obligations.”
As part of its penalty and Crown Resorts Limited has reportedly moreover been issued with a letter of censure that indefinitely prohibits its from recommencing junket operations at its 126-acre Crown Melbourne venue. The casino regulator for Western Australia purportedly served the operator with an analogous injunction in February in advance of launching its own license suitability probe concerning the firm’s Crown Perth property.
However, the local leader of the Australian Greens political party, Samantha Ratnam (pictured), reportedly criticized the penalty as ‘too little, too late’ following years of alleged inaction by state and federal regulators. She purportedly furthermore proclaimed that it should not have taken ‘years of damning allegations and the announcement of a royal commission’ to spur the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation into action.
Ratnam reportedly pronounced…
“While the fine itself will likely be nothing more than loose change to Crown Resorts Limited, we hope this provides the government with yet another sign that it’s time to break up the gambling giant for good.”
For his part and independent parliamentarian and well-known anti-slot campaigner Andrew Wilkie reportedly described the latest sanction against Crown Resorts Limited as ‘laughable’. He purportedly went on to declare that the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation ‘should be handing out fines in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars’ as this is the only way to ‘rein in’ misbehaving casino operators.
Wilkie reportedly told the broadcaster…
“It’s wilful ignorance that Crown Resorts Limited didn’t do the checks and didn’t want to do the checks.”
All of this reportedly comes after Crown Resorts Limited was earlier this year refused a casino license for its new Crown Sydney development owing to concerns that it may have been potentially complicit in a slew of money laundering offenses tied to its use of foreign junket firms. The $1.5 billion Sydney development purportedly opened at the end of December without its planned complement of around 120 gaming tables and the Melbourne-headquartered operator is now known to be working with the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority in hopes of being able to reverse the earlier denial.