In Australia and casino operator Crown Resorts Limited has reportedly told the royal commission investigating its license suitability in the state of Victoria that it will be extensively overhauling its responsible gambling program.
According to a report from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, the pledge from the operator of the 1,604-room Crown Melbourne development came just a few days before the examining body began a week of hearings into the topic of gambling addictions. This reportedly followed a series of sessions last week in which the probe heard that the firm may have been complicit in a slew of money laundering offenses tied to its use of foreign junket firms.
Crown Resorts Limited was reportedly denied a casino license for its new Crown Sydney property in February after an official probe commissioned by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority determined that it had fallen short of the eastern state’s suitability requirements. This decision purportedly prompted the government for Victoria to initiate an analogous examination looking into the operator’s license for the giant Crown Melbourne development.
The newspaper reported that the pledge regarding a ‘suite of changes’ came as Sonja Bauer, Responsible Gaming General Manager for Crown Resorts Limited, admitted that her firm could no longer claim to be a ‘world leader’ in responsible gambling practices. She purportedly disclosed that she had reached this conclusion after a recent external review uncovered shortcomings in the way the company approached issues relating to gambling addictions.
However, a counsel assisting the Victoria inquiry, Adrian Finanzio, reportedly told The Sydney Morning Herald that the pledge from the Melbourne-headquartered casino operator amounts to an eleventh-hour admission that it has been failing to limit harm. The lawyer purportedly moreover proclaimed that evidence will show ‘serious and persistent’ failures by Crown Resorts Limited to employ an effective responsible gambling code of conduct, which could represent a possible breach of its casino license.
Finanzio reportedly told the newspaper…
“Some of the measures concern practices of Crown Resorts Limited that have been for a long time obviously inconsistent with fostering responsible gaming. The letter promises to stop things which, on one view, should never have been happening in the first place.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Crown Melbourne is the largest gambling facility in Victoria with 2,628 slots including about 1,000 that are uniquely operated in ‘unrestricted mode’, which means that they can spin ceaselessly and take larger bets. Finanzio purportedly told the man leading the royal commission, former Federal Court Judge Ray Finkelstein, that his evidence would show that patrons of the Melbourne property were up to three times more likely to experience gambling-related harm than those who played elsewhere.