VGCCC fines Crown Melbourne US$77.2m for serious misconduct

The VGCCC is considering further disciplinary proceedings against Crown Resorts.
The VGCCC is considering further disciplinary proceedings against Crown Resorts.

The VGCCC has imposed two fines against Crown Melbourne for breaches of its Responsible Service of Gambling obligations.

Australia.- The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has announced disciplinary action against Crown Melbourne for failing its Responsible Service of Gambling obligations. The regulator has imposed two fines totalling AU$120m (US$77.2m).

The Royal Commission into the casino operator and Licence found that Crown Melbourne:

  • breached its code of conduct for the Responsible Service of Gambling over many years by consistently failing to intervene to prevent gambling harm allowing customers to often gamble for long periods without a break, sometimes for more than 24 hours, and
  • failed to comply with a statutory direction by the regulator to take all reasonable steps to prevent patrons from using plastic picks and other devices to simulate ‘automatic play’ when gambling on specific electronic gaming machines (or ‘pokies’).

The casino operator has accepted that disciplinary action should be taken and that reforms must continue to address these and other obligations.

VGCCC chair Fran Thorn said: “For a long time, Crown failed in its legal and moral obligation to ensure it provided its gambling products and services in a manner which minimised potential harm to its patrons, their families, friends and communities.

“The record fines totalling AU$120m that we have imposed on Crown today will send a powerful message to Crown that the Commission will not tolerate misconduct that exposes our community to increased risks of gambling-related harm. 

“These were not isolated breaches. They were part of a pattern of extensive, sustained and systemic failures by Crown that spanned roughly 12 years.”

“We urge all gambling licence holders to read this decision. This disciplinary action also sounds a warning to all in the Victorian gambling industry that we expect them to do everything they can to minimise the harmful impacts of gambling. The Commission will be resolute in pursuing our new requirement to regulate for harm minimisation, and the industry can expect further action from the Commission on this matter.”

This is the second time the VGCCC has used its stronger enforcement powers to take disciplinary action against Crown for conduct uncovered by the Royal Commission. In May, it fined Crown Resorts AU$80m (US$57.4m) for using a China Union Pay process to avoid Chinese currency restrictions.

Between 2012 and 2016, Crown Melbourne allowed its customers to use a credit or debit card to access funds to play games at Melbourne casinos. It earned an estimated AU$32m in revenue from AU$164m in transactions.

In October last year, Victoria’s Royal Commission officially declared Crown Resorts unsuitable to hold a licence for its Crown Melbourne casino. However, the casino operator kept its licence through the appointment of a Special Manager to oversee the casino for two years. Following that period, the VGCCC will decide whether Crown is suitable to regain its Melbourne Casino licence unsupervised.

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Crown Resorts Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission