Crown’s special treatment for high rollers led to big losses

Crown’s special treatment for high rollers led to big losses

John Alexander, former Crown Resorts chief executive, said the casino operator used private jets and luxury yachts to attract high rollers. However, the approach resulted in big losses.

Australia.- Western Australia’s Royal Commission has heard that Crown Perth’s special treatment for high rollers cost it millions. According to John Alexander, former Crown Resorts chief executive, Crown Perth tried to attract VIP clients by offering luxury yachts, private jets and even subsidising multi-million dollar weddings.

However, the approach brought huge losses for the casino operator. During the inquiry, Patricia Cahill, counsel assisting the Royal Commission, cited the example of a wedding that was held for a friend of an intermediary at a cost of more than AU$2.75m. 

According to Cahill, Crown Perth funded approximately AU$950,000 in wedding expenses. However, Alexander admitted that sometimes high rollers chose not to gamble, which resulted in big debts for the casino operator.

Cahill said the wedding party resulted in a loss of AU$3.1m for Crown Perth.

The inquiry also heard that a gambler has an AU$29m debt since February 2014. Another gambler had debts of AU$10m, which have been outstanding since October 2012.

Cahill said: “Media reports indicate that he may be convicted of various crimes in China.”

Alexander argued that Crown Perth’s ability to enforce debt repayment was “very limited” because the gamblers live in another country. He said individual high rollers were harder to recover debts from, compared to junket operators, who guaranteed the debts of participants.

Crown Perth provided credit for Australian and international gamblers

Crown Perth approved credit for Australian and international gamblers although it is not allowed under WA laws.

According to ABC, Crown Perth also planned to roll out a China UnionPay (CUP) system to let Chinese gamblers transfer money to the casino with the approval of the gambling watchdog. However, Crown Perth halted the pan when 19 Crown employees were arrested in China in 2016.

The Royal Commission was also told that Joshua Preston, former Crown legal boss, had written to WA’s chief casino officer Michael Connolly about amending the Crown Perth casino manual to allow CUP transactions.

Lonnie Bossi is also being investigated as he was a signatory on the Riverbank bank account that, according to the Bergin inquiry, was linked to money laundering.

Although the Western Australian Royal Commission into Crown Perth will continue until March 2022, the gaming regulator may call on Racing and Gaming Minister Reece Whitby to cancel Crown’s licence before the end of the inquiry.

Former Supreme Court justices Neville Owen and Lindy Jenkins together with former auditor-general Colin Murphy have already sent an interim report to the governor of Western Australia.

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Crown Resorts