Conduct ‘Disgraceful’ But Crown Keeps Licence


Crown Resorts Limited has been spared the axe and will retain its Victorian licence, despite the Royal Commission slamming its conduct as “disgraceful”.

The Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence for Crown Melbourne report was tabled earlier this month. The Victorian government released its response that adopts a number of oversight recommendations but stops short of cancelling its licence.

The inquiry was launched following the Bergin Report, which found Crown Melbourne had facilitated money laundering and allowed operators with links to organised crime to arrange for junket players to gamble at the casino.

Commissioner Ray Finkelstein said Crown Melbourne had embarked on a “significant reform program”, which had spared the gambling giant from having its operating licence torn up.

“Crown Melbourne had engaged in conduct that is, in a word, disgraceful,” Finkelstein said.

“This is a convenient shorthand for describing conduct that was variously illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative … the catalogue of wrongdoing is alarming ... because it was engaged in by a regulated entity whose privilege to hold a casino licence is dependent upon it being, at all times, a person of good character, honesty and integrity.

“What tipped the balance against the cancellation of its licence was that Crown Melbourne has, at great financial cost, embarked on a significant reform program led by people of good will and skill.”

▲ Commissioner Ray Finkelstein lambasted Crown Melbourne for its unethical conduct, but said it had made concerted efforts to rectify the endemic problems.
▲ Commissioner Ray Finkelstein lambasted Crown Melbourne for its unethical conduct, but said it had made concerted efforts to rectify the endemic problems.

The Commission’s tabled report makes 33 recommendations centred on reforming the gambling entity and ensuring oversight.

The Victorian government’s response to the tabled report has been swift. In a statement the government said it was “introducing tough new measures and stringent oversight of the casino operator to ensure the failures exposed by the Royal Commission never happen again”.

“The Casino and Gambling Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 being introduced today commences the critical reforms required to ensure the casino is operated in accordance with the highest standards of integrity.”

In a statement Crown Resorts Limited said it was “currently reviewing the report and the Victorian government’s response”.

“Crown will work co-operatively and constructively with the Victorian Government in relation to the findings and recommendations of the report and their response.”

Crown’s chief executive Steve McCann said “today’s announcement by the Victorian Government provides a way forward for the business”.

“We are committed to working with the Special Manager, Stephen O’Bryan QC, in a constructive and transparent manner, just as we have been doing with the independent monitor appointed by the New South Wales regulator.

“We are embracing the challenges ahead of us as we work to restore our reputation and we are determined to get this right. We will be a better Crown.”

Crown was thrown into the spotlight when 19 China-based Crown staff were arrested and imprisoned in October of 2016 for illegally promoting gambling in Australia to Chinese residents.

Amendments to the Bill will include the establishment of a Special Manager role, that will oversee all aspects of the casino’s operations, and the Victorian government has proposed Stephen O’Bryan QC would be appointed to this role, following the approval of the legislation in parliament.

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