Royal Commission in Victoria Allows Crown Melbourne to Keep Its Operating Licence for 2-Year Grace Period While Improving “Disgraceful” Wrongdoings

Olivia Cole

Crown Resorts has been allowed to keep the operating licence for its Melbourne casino, although the Royal Commission of the state of Victoria found its conduct was “disgraceful”.

Earlier today, Commissioner Ray Finkelstein issued his final report on the matter, making a recommendation for Crown Melbourne to be given a two-year grace period to improve its various wrongdoings under the monitoring of a special manager.

The Victorian Royal Commission into Crown Resorts’ Melbourne operating licence was formed following allegations of a number of gambling law breaches on the casino’s part. Following a lengthy investigation process, the Australian gambling giant was found to have repeatedly breached money laundering laws, as well as the casino’s contract with the state of Victoria. Investigators also found evidence of links to overseas criminal organisations.

However, the Royal Commission of the state has decided to give Crown Resorts one more chance and not take its Melbourne casino licence although the operator had breached the law on multiple occasions, including not paying tax deductions it owed to the state.

Under the provisions of Commissioner Finkelstein’s decision, at the end of the 2-year grace period, the special manager is set to make a recommendation to the Victorian gambling regulatory body whether Crown Resorts should be allowed to keep its operating licence in the state. Then, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) will decide whether the Melbourne casino venue of the company has returned to suitability and has done enough to mend its wrongdoings.

Maximum Fine for Gambling Law Violations Increase, Junkets to Be Banned

The report issued by Commissioner Ray Finkelstein stated that the Melbourne casino of the Australian gambling giant was found in violation of local laws. The investigation also found that in the period from 2012 to 2016, the gambling operator helped Chinese casino patrons transfer up to AU$160 million from accounts to China to the Crowns Towers Hotel to pay for services. However, such transfers are not currently allowed by the laws of Victoria and investigators said they allowed money laundering to take place at Crown Melbourne.

As mentioned above, the Royal Commission described the actions of the casino company as “disgraceful”. The report also says that the conduct of Crown Melbourne was found to be variously illegal, unethical, dishonest and exploitative.

Regardless of all this, Mr Finkelstein decided not to recommend immediate revocation of Crown Resorts’ operating licence in the state of Victoria. In his report, he explained that grading the seriousness of the gambling operator’s misconduct was not an easy job.

Following the announcement of the Commissioner’s report, Melissa Horne, the Gaming Minister of the state, shared that the default position would be that the Melbourne casino of Crown Resorts would be stripped of its operating licence unless it managed to provide proof it had changed for the better. She further noted that, at the end of the two-year grace period, the Victorian Government would automatically assume that the licence of Crown Melbourne had been cancelled unless the gambling operator demonstrated it improved its conduct.

Apart from making a decision on Crown Melbourne’s operating permit, the Government of Victoria decided to increase the maximum fine for violating the state’s Gambling Act from AU$1 million to AU$100 million.

In addition, foreign junket operators will be suspended by the local Government under new laws that were also tabled in Parliament earlier today.

Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.

Daniel Williams
Author: Wanda Peters