Crown Melbourne special manager releases first activity report

Stephen O’Bryan QC was appointed special manager by Royal Commission.
Stephen O’Bryan QC was appointed special manager by Royal Commission.

The report covers key activities undertaken by the special manager for the first six-month reporting period, from January 1 to June 30 2022.

Australia.- Stephen O’Bryan QC has released his first activity report as special manager at Crown Melbourne. O’Bryan was appointed to the role by Judge Raymond Finkelstein, who led the state of Victoria’s inquiry into the casino operator. 

The Royal Commission recommended Crown be permitted to continue operating the casino under stringent independent oversight conditions for two years. The Special Manager has unprecedented powers to oversee Crown Resorts, veto decisions of the Board, and has access to all areas of the casino and its books and records. 

O’Bryan reported that his first six months had focused on:

  • establishing the Office of the Special Manager (OSM), a small office that supports the special manager
  • understanding the reform work Crown is undertaking in response to the Royal Commission as it seeks to become suitable to hold its licence
  • engaging with key stakeholders to raise awareness of the special manager’s role and functions, and to inform the OSM’s work
  • identifying the main areas of Crown’s reform work that the special manager will monitor and assess over the next reporting period (to December 31)
  • preparing the first six-monthly interim and activity reports for the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) and the minister, as required.

According to the report, Crown Resorts has taken a range of positive steps to address the issues identified by the Royal Commission, including making changes to its governance structures, board and senior leadership positions, policies and procedures, and systems and controls. 

On the advice of the OSM, the Crown Melbourne board has decided to begin monthly meetings (from July 2022) to enhance oversight of Crown’s transformation and drive reform projects and activities, including overseeing resource procurement and progress. 

The board used to meet quarterly because its members also serve on the board of the holding company Crown Resorts, which meets more frequently.

O’Bryan has directed Crown to notify OSM of its dealings with regulators and government agencies to ensure OSM is aware of Crown’s compliance with state and federal laws and regulatory requirements. In addition to attending board and committee meetings, the special manager met with senior Crown officials at various levels related to compliance.

O’Bryan said Crown’s reform efforts need to be prioritised to bring about real and lasting change and show the VGCCC that it can retain its licence to operate Melbourne’s casinos.

See also: VGCCC starts disciplinary proceedings against Crown Melbourne

In December 2023, the special manager will deliver a final report to the VGCCC and the minister for consumer affairs, gaming and liquor regulation. The report will assess Crown’s reform efforts to assist the regulator in determining whether Crown has resumed holding a Melbourne casino licence position.

O’Bryan will continue to monitor the progress of Crown’s reform work as it transitions to new ownership under Blackstone Inc.

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Crown Resorts