Crown Melbourne’s casino licence should be cancelled, inquiry hears

Victoria’s Royal Commission into Crown Resorts will continue up to October 15.
Victoria’s Royal Commission into Crown Resorts will continue up to October 15.

Adrian Finanzio, counsel assisting the inquiry, has told Victoria’s Royal Commission that Crown Melbourne should lose its casino licence due to serious misconduct.

Australia.- Adrian Finanzio, the counsel assisting Victoria’s Royal Commission into Crown Resort, has 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.”

He said the company had put profits above legislative requirements and could owe the state AU$480m (US$351.4m) in unpaid taxes. Crown CEO Steve McCann has suggested that the tax underpayment stood at around AU$8m, but the figure could be significantly higher.

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.

Finanzio said: “Walsh partially disclosed the existence of the issues to other directors, downplayed the significance of the issue to Crown’s lawyers, and never followed up the matter in any meaningful way.”

He told former Federal Court judge Raymond Finkelstein, who’s leading the inquiry, that if he decides Crown Melbourne should hold its licence, it must be “placed under strict supervision and should not be left to its own devices to implement reform.”

The judge leading the inquiry was originally due to release his report by August 1, but Finkelstein has ordered an extension to the inquiry up to October 15.

Crown Resorts is also facing a Royal Commission in Western Australia, which is expected to deliver a final report by November 14. It will analyse Crown Resorts’ suitability to continue holding a casino gaming licence for Crown Perth.

WA’s Royal Commission is also analysing how Western Australia’s Gaming and Wagering Commission (GWC) exercised its powers under relevant state and federal laws and whether the regulator was capable and effective in its duties.

Crown Melbourne employees didn’t encourage high-gamblers to take time out

The Victorian Royal Commission heard that Crown Melbourne employees were not prepared to discourage people from gambling after spending hours inside the venue.

An employee told the inquiry that he warned gamblers they could lose their VIP status if they chose to self-exclude.

A poker dealer at Crown Melbourne also said he wasn’t sure what “responsible service of gaming” meant. He said he had never advised a customer to go to a responsible gaming centre and had never had contact with the venue’s responsible gambling advisors.

Another dealer admitted he didn’t know the names of Crown Melbourne’s responsible gambling advisors and had never heard of Crown’s play periods policy to reduce the time customers gamble without taking a break.

J.P. Morgan believes Crown Resorts will keep its licences in Western Australia and New South Wales, but possibly with new conditions.

Royal Commissions held in other industries such as banking and financial services which inquired into money laundering, terrorism financing, and statutory reporting responsibilities, made large numbers of recommendations, including on the restructuring of some fees. 

Royal Commission into trade union governance and slush funds in 2014/2015 resulted in a recommendation for the creation of a new national regulator. 

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