Crown Melbourne slapped with another $1m fine for junket links

| By Nosa Omoigui
Crown Melbourne has been fined $1m by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) after failing to comply with the commission's regulations regarding junket operations.
Crown Melbourne fined $1m by Victoria Commission

VCGLR’s investigation found that Crown failed to cease its relationship with an “unsuitable” junket operator despite being asked to do so, and the operator also failed to do sufficient due diligence on an associate of this junket operator – while neglecting to inform the commission of the associate’s existence. The failings were found to have taken place in 2015 and 2016.

This is the second VCGLR fine Crown has received for junket-related regulatory violations, with the first coming in April 2021.

The $1m fine is the maximum sanction given by VCGLR, and the organisation says it reflects “the serious nature of Crown’s direct disobedience”. Authorities have sought to raise the maximum possible fine in response to findings of Crown’s wrongdoing.

VCGLR chair Ross Kennedy said: “The amount of this fine reflects the seriousness of this matter, particularly Crown’s conduct in failing to immediately implement the requirements of the Commission’s direction to cease a relationship with an unsuitable junket operator.

“The VCGLR expects its regulated entities to be proactive in their compliance with regulatory
requirements, and firm action will continue to be taken against those that willfully disregard or
disobey directions of the regulator.”

Crown Melbourne was also deemed unsuitable to hold a licence in Victoria following an investigation from the state’s Royal Commission. However, the commission opted not to revoke its licence.

Elsewhere, Crown was forced to pay a AU$25m settlement to New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) after the Bergin Report deemed the company unsuitable to operate a casino in Sydney’s Barangaroo region.

Regarding the latest fine, Crown CEO Steve McCann said: “Crown will consider the findings of the VCGLR carefully, with a view to continuing to advance its reform agenda and taking into consideration all available learnings.

“Crown was the first Australian casino group to announce the cessation of dealings with junkets. The announcement today from the VCGLR is a reflection of past practices which no longer occur at Crown.”

Crown also announced the appointment of Bronwyn Weir as the company’s new group company secretary, subject to regulatory approval.

Weir previously served as deputy group company secretary having joined Crown in March 2021, and will assume the new role following the resignation of Craig Durham.

Crown chairman Dr Ziggy Switkowski said: “In addition to carrying a substantial workload, Ms Weir has played an instrumental role in governance and board matters since she joined Crown earlier this year. I look forward to her formal appointment to this critical role.”

Subscribe to the ICE365 newsletter