- »Crown Plans to Reopen Melbourne Casino November 2020
Crown Plans to Reopen Melbourne Casino November 2020
Crown to Reopen Melbourne Casino
Crown Resorts’ Melbourne casino is planning to reopen its doors on Thursday, November 12 after months of closure.
Vegas Slots Online reports that following the all-clear from health officials, the company will reopen its flagship casino while following strict public health advice.
Only VIP members will be permitted entry as the number of patrons allowed in the venue is capped at 100. The property has been closed since March 23, as Australian authorities tried to contain the virus. There were plans to reopen in July, but this did not eventuate after a second wave of the virus took hold, once again shelving plans for Crown’s reopening.
Lockdowns in Australia have been easing in recent weeks as the number of new virus cases comes down. This has paved the way for Crown’s reopening. Chief executive officer Ken Barton said the company had been working with the Victorian government and health authorities about how to safely reopen the casino.
Together, they developed extensive hygiene and physical distancing measures.
“We are pleased to be able to commence the process of welcoming back our employees and customers to Crown Melbourne,” Mr Barton said.
As part of the restrictions, only every second electronic table game and poker machine will be open for use. There can also only be up to 10 customers in a maximum of 10 designated VIP areas. All guests may only stay at the facility for up to 90 minutes and there will be a COVID Marshal at every gaming floor to ensure patrons comply with rules.
Crown Resorts has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons in recent times. At the conclusion of a seven-week public hearing last week, the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry said that the casino company was not suitable to maintain a gaming licence in the state.
Some of the reasons mentioned include its links to organised crime, the allowance of money laundering, and putting its employees at risk on assignments in China. There were also concerns about the behaviour of former chief executive and significant shareholder James Packer.
Crown Resorts is planning to open its $2 billion casino and hotel complex in Sydney on December 14. With the inquiry not set to report its final findings until February, there is pressure to delay the opening.
The Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation is waiting for the NSW authorities to conclude its inquiry before fully investigating Crown’s Melbourne operations.
Victorian regulator slow to produce Crown report
Crown Resorts staff who were arrested and imprisoned in China for illegally promoting gambling activities weren’t interviewed by Victoria’s gambling regulator until years after the watchdog launched an investigation into their arrests.
The Guardian reported in early November that the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation’s annual report showed the progress the investigation had made, which is not yet complete, despite starting in 2017.
It is likely to further alarm critics of the regulator, who have derided it as a “toothless tiger” that is captured by Crown and “worse than useless.”
VCGLR staff only attempted to interview Crown staff who were arrested in China after serious allegations, including that organised crime was involved in junkets that bring high rollers to the group’s casinos, were aired by Nine Entertainment outlets in July 2019.
The regulator is responsible for oversight of Crown’s biggest casino, which an inquiry in NSW has heard included one junket, Suncity, allegedly linked to organised crime gangs. Nineteen Crown staff were arrested by Chinese authorities in 2016 and subsequently convicted of illegally promoting gambling.
One of the Crown employees, Jenny Jiang, was heavily featured on Nine’s TV current affairs show, 60 Minutes, and in the media groups’ newspaper coverage.