Former Rugby League COO Joins Crown Resorts

Crown Resorts

Former National Rugby League chief operating officer Nick Weeks has joined Australian casino operator Crown Resorts.

The Australian Financial Review reports that Weeks, a former Allens lawyer, has joined the gaming group as its head of regulatory response and transition.

After being made redundant last September as part of an $80 million NRL cost-cutting drive, Weeks’ hire comes in response to the Bergin inquiry from the New South Wales government’s Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.

Two live royal commissions in Victoria and Western Australia are also underway.

Crown’s Victorian royal commission gets underway

royal commission report
The Victorian royal commission examining Crown Resorts said it will not tolerate delays in producing documents from the parties involved.

The Guardian reported the former judge running the royal commission, Ray Finkelstein, said he intended to meet a tight timeframe set by the premier, Daniel Andrews, and produce his report by August 1.

“Delays will not be tolerated,” Finkelstein said at a hearing formally opening the commission’s work last Wednesday morning.

He said that in addition to looking into past money laundering and criminal links at Crown’s Melbourne casino, which an inquiry in NSW has already found existed, his commission would look into other issues including whether money laundering continued at the casino and how the company dealt with problem gambling.

Finkelstein said he wrote to Crown asking if it accepted the findings of the NSW inquiry, which was run by former supreme court judge Patricia Bergin.

“Crown’s response is a little equivocal,” he said.

The company accepted it was not a suitable associate to run a new casino at Barangaroo in Sydney but did not accept “the wilfulness or deliberateness of the conduct concerned,” Finkelstein said.

He said Crown said it was now suitable to run the Melbourne casino due to a “substantial reform program”.

“The outcome of this inquiry may well depend on the effectiveness of this program,” he said.

He said he wrote a second letter to Crown asking “in plain terms” if it had breached any of its obligations under Victorian law or its contract with the state government to run the Melbourne casino.

A response had yet to be received, he said.

The royal commission, which has a budget of $10 million, was called after Bergin found that Crown was not fit to hold a licence to run a new casino complex at Barangaroo, on Sydney’s harbour.

A similar royal commission is also under way in Western Australia.

Crown Perth outlines royal commission plan

writing a royal commission plan
The terms of reference have been released by the Western Australian government for its Crown Resorts royal commission.

Asgam reported that the royal commission will explore the company’s suitability to hold a casino gaming licence for Crown Perth and the adequacy of the state’s regulatory framework.

Announced the month, the royal commission is in response to New South Wales’ own inquiry, which recommended Crown Resorts be deemed unsuitable to hold a licence for its casino in Sydney due to money laundering and organised crime links.

The report was released on February 9, with the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority concurring with the reports recommendation.

According to WA’s terms of reference, the royal commission will be required to report and inquire on the suitability of Crown Resorts and its local subsidiaries to continue to hold a licence for Crown Perth and if found unsuitable, what actions would be required to render them suitable.

It will also be required to look at whether or not the current regulatory framework is adequately prepared “to address extant and emerging strategic risks identified in the Bergin Report, or otherwise by this inquiry, including in relation to junket operations, money laundering, cash and electronic transactions and the risk of infiltration by criminal elements into casino operations.”

The regulatory aspect of the inquiry will include identifying and addressing any actual or perceived conflicts of interest by officers involved in WA’s casino regulation, and suggesting how the regulatory framework might be enhanced to address any areas of concern or weakness.

William Brown

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