Crown Melbourne has had its casino license renewed, even though it isn’t keeping up with its obligations. Crown Resorts has faced fines and has found to be out of compliance on several issues, but Victoria’s gaming regulator approved the renewal, anyway. In approving the license, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) has ordered the casino operator to create “new or refreshed” strategies for problem gamblers.
The VCGLR also admonished Crown over “failures of governance and risk management, contributing to compliance slippages,” as well as a “lack of innovation” for responsible gaming “such as might now be required of a world-leading operator to meet heightening community and regulatory expectations.” According to the commission, however, Crown is still suitable for its gaming license.
Crown has been fined record amounts for violations of gaming laws. Last year, it was fined US$221,000 for the removal of betting options on 17 poker machines without approval. It was also fined US$414,000 over a five-year period for eight breaches of compliance that included minority gambling. Crown has also come under fire for Victoria’s anti-money laundering policies, which the VCGLR has said are not being followed. The company has denied those allegations.
During the same five-year period, 13 drug deals were recorded in the casino, according to Victoria Police. Weapons were also found on casino grounds, including in hotel rooms.
The VCGLR has recommended a total of 20 changes in approving the renewal of the license, and Crown agreed to them all.
John Alexander, Crown’s chairman, has indicated that the casino has worked hard to improve its responsible gaming program, but the VCGLR feels that it has fallen short. Alexander responded by saying that the company will continue to push forward to make additional changes. “Crown recognises the importance of responsible gaming measures to the future of the industry and is committed to further engagement with relevant stakeholders and development and refinement of its responsible gaming program informed, as far as possible, by research and expert opinion,” he explained.
Tim Costello, who represents the Alliance for Gambling Reform, lashed out at the VCGLR report. He admonished the commission for releasing the 209-page report on a Friday afternoon, claiming that more should have been done to force Crown to improve its operations. “Crown was criticised for its performance in a number of areas such as governance, regulatory compliance and responsible gambling, but the sanction from the VCGLR was overly focused on reviews, rather than specific actions or changes to licence conditions,” Costello said.