Crown Melbourne to pay AU$61m in tax penalties

Crown Melbourne underpaid its casino taxes for seven years.
Crown Melbourne underpaid its casino taxes for seven years.

Crown Resorts has reported that it will make a payment to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) representing an underpayment of casino tax by Crown Melbourne.

Australia.- Crown Resorts has reported that it has decided to pay the VCGLR AU$61m due to the underpayment of casino taxes and applicable penalty interest related to Crown Melbourne.

The underpayment was originally about AU$37m, but the figure increased due to payment delays.

Crown Resorts said it is continuing to review other aspects of casino tax payments and will update the market once the review is complete. 

In May, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) fined Crown Melbourne AU$22.5m (US$17.3m) following its inquiry into the casino operator. The company had previously been fined AU$1m (US$777,305) for not properly analysing foreign high rollers and their junket operators.

A few weeks ago, Victoria’s Royal Commission heard that Crown Melbourne had underpaid its casino tax for seven years. Xavier WalshCrown Melbourne’s chief executive, admitted that he learned about the possibility in 2018 but only started investigating when Victoria’s Royal Commission was announced.

Asked by former Federal Court judge Raymond Finkelstein why he did nothing for almost three years, Walsh said he “took comfort” from knowing senior Crown staff were aware of the issue.

According to ABC newspaper, Walsh raised the issue to former executive chairman, Helen Coonan, once it was announced that the Royal Commission was to examine Crown’s suitability to hold a licence for its casino in Melbourne.

Current CEO, Steve McCann, also referred to the tax underpayment. He said that he wrote to the Victorian treasury conceding that Crown had made illegal deductions from its poker machine tax calculations since 2013.

Adrian Finanzio, the counsel assisting Victoria’s Royal Commission into Crown Resorts, told the inquiry that the casino operator should lose its licence for Crown Melbourne.

Finanzio argued that the evidence against Crown Melbourne during the inquiry showed “serious misconduct, illegal conduct and highly inappropriate conduct, which has been encouraged or facilitated by a culture which has consistently put profit before all other considerations.”

Finanzio also said that Xavier Walsh, Crown Melbourne’s chief executive, and former executive chairman, Helen Coonan, were not appropriate people to remain connected to the casino operator.

Crown Melbourne to reopen after a snap closure

Crown Melbourne has announced that its casino, restaurants and bars will reopen after a snap closure to contain a spread of Covid-19 cases.

The reopening, however, will be with capacity restrictions of 100 patrons in each indoor space while physical distancing and hygiene protocols remain in place.

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