Crown Perth players threatened by loan sharks, inquiry hears

The Western Australian Royal Commission will continue until March 2022.
The Western Australian Royal Commission will continue until March 2022.

The Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) has told the Western Australian Royal Commission into Crown Resorts that several players were approached by loan sharks they met on the casino floor.

Australia.- In a new session, Western Australia’s Royal Commission has received submissions from the Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) claiming that several players went to the organisation after being threatened by loan sharks at Crown Perth.

The FCA claimed that unauthorised moneylenders were operating with impunity at the casino. It said that in one cases, a lender approached a losing player on the Crown Perth casino floor and offered him an AU$10,000 loan. The player lost the acquired cash, leading to threats from the predatory lender. 

The FCA, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people in financial difficulty, said the casino operator had never taken action to stop such practice. However, Brian Lee, general security and surveillance manager at Crown’s Perth venue, insisted that the operator had worked to prevent loan sharks from entering the premises.

Those suspected of being predatory lenders could face a ban for at least two years before reaching Lee for revocation, he said. He added that such bans are usually extended to more than two years.

Lee was asked about a person whose alias was Patron S. and Lee answered he was suspected of loan sharking and was therefore banned from entering Crown Perth in 2020.

The FCA asked the WA Royal Commission for casinos to be included in the nationwide self-exclusion register, whose launch is expected in 2022. Lauren Levin, FCA’s Director of Policy and Campaigns, said the country needs new laws and a nationwide gambling regulator to protect players.

Crown Perth used by organised criminals, inquiry hears

Western Australia’s Royal Commission has heard that Crown Perth was used by high-rollers to offset cash provided by organised crime organisations through the hawala system, which allows cash to be moved outside of traditional banking systems.

Deputy Police Commissioner Col Blanch said overseas VIP players who wanted to gamble in Australia and needed more Australian dollars because of their own country’s limitations on cross-border fund transfers would use brokers to supply the cash. 

According to The Australian, he said: “If you have the right broker, they can actually arrange for drug trafficking money to be given to that person wittingly or unwittingly to gamble with, as long as they hand their money in their country of origin over to the person that organised it, and then it finds its way back to the drug trafficker.”

Rachel Murray, Crown Resorts’ internal audit manager, had previously said of junket operations: “I know there was an approval process but I can’t remember who was involved in that process.”

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Crown Perth Crown Resorts GAMBLING REGULATION