Crown Resorts Fined $1m by Victorian Regulator

Crown Resorts

The Victorian gambling regulator has dished out a $1 million fine to Crown Resorts over its failure to vet high-roller junket tour partners for criminal links.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation said the fine was the maximum amount it could impose on the casino operator for failing to comply with its regulatory obligations.

Crown’s dealings with junkets, which bring ultra-wealthy, mostly Chinese gamblers to its Melbourne and Perth casinos, have put the ASX-listed group in turmoil.

The long-running inquiry in New South Wales, which found in February that Crown was unfit to hold the licence for its new Sydney casino, while royal commissions underway into Crown’s licences in Melbourne and Perth have added pressure on the embattled casino operator.

The VCGLR said it had determined that Crown was in breach of its regulatory obligations by failing to have a “robust process to consider the ongoing probity of junket entities”.

“The commission assessed Crown’s engagement with certain individuals who were junket operators, junket agents and/or junket players at the Melbourne casino,” it said.

“The commission concluded that in respect of the analysed individuals, the processes implemented by Crown were not robust, as required in its regulatory agreements.”

Crown also failed to gather the necessary information about its junket partners to assess their probity and failed to document how it made decisions about which junkets to work with.

The high rollers that junkets brought into Australia could lose up to $15 million an hour gambling in the casino’s VIP gaming rooms.

Crown is currently facing an enforcement investigation from financial crimes watchdog AUSTRAC over breaches of money laundering laws, which analysts estimate could cost the group as much as $100 million in fines.

The Victorian regulator said it had also banned Crown from working with junkets again until it had satisfied the commission it had improved its due diligence procedures.

The gambling authority said it decided not to release the detailed reasons for its findings after Crown claimed that criminals might use that “valuable information” about its internal controls and procedures to launder money at its casino.

In September 2020, in the midst of the NSW inquiry, Crown decided to suspend all activity with its junket partners until June 30, 2021.

That decision was made as part of a review of its compliance and governance processes.

In a desperate attempt to be granted its casino licence amid the opening of its new $2.2 billion Barangaroo casino in New South Wales, Crown announced last November that it would permanently cease dealing with junket operators.

Crown takes a stand against junkets

Crown said it would only recommence dealing with a junket operator if it was licensed or otherwise approved or sanctioned by all gaming regulators in the states where the company operates.

Media reports in 2019 alleged Crown’s casino had been used for money laundering and that junket tour operators Crown had relationships with had links to organised crime.

Crown’s $2.2 billion Barangaroo project will inevitably change the state of Australia’s gambling operations.

Crown’s arrival means there is a rival to Star Sydney, with the newest waterfront establishment is also designed to frame the views of Sydney Harbour’s icons standing at a 275-metre-high.

Crown Sydney is located in the stylish Barangaroo district and opened in December 2020.

The development was built to “redefine luxury as the newest sanctuary in the city” and become a pinnacle of modern design”, Crown said.

Crown Sydney features a 5-star hotel hosting a total of 349 guest rooms and suites along with its signature restaurants and bars, luxury retail outlets, and lavish pool and spa facilities.

Premium gaming areas are set to have around 120 gaming tables when it opens later this year and VIP gaming facilities will also be available in Crown’s members-only casino.

Bets of between $20 and $30 will be the standard minimum which casino industry experts note is on par with general recreational gambling.

The complex also boasts of high-class apartments located on the upper floors of the building.

William Brown

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