The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) has fined Crown Resorts $1 million for failing to comply with regulatory requirements regarding junket operations.
Following an examination of Crown’s interactions with specific individuals, the Commission found that the group’s procedures were not robust, as specified by previously accepted internal control statements.
Crown was also found to have failed in the following areas:
- to gather necessary information to enable it to make an informed decision concerning the probity of relevant junket entities, and did not check and verify relevant information directly with them;
- to ensure that decisions relating to probity assessments were made by decision-makers who understood or were in a position to prioritise Crown’s regulatory obligations; and
- to maintain appropriate and contemporaneous records relating to junket probity decisions. This failure, says the VCGLR, meant that it was unclear how certain decisions were reached and whether they were made with due regard to Crown’s regulatory obligations.
In addition to the maximum fine, the corporation has been given a letter of censure, which prevents it from resuming junket operations at the Melbourne casino until the Commission is satisfied that its processes and procedures have been strengthened.
The group must also report to the Commission on a regular basis on the progress of a reform agenda that it outlined in its submissions on the subject.
Although this is not the first time the Commission has taken disciplinary action against Crown, it is the first time it has been fined the maximum amount allowed, according to Ross Kennedy, chairman of the VCGLR.
“That fine reflects the seriousness of this matter, and the fact that Crown’s failure to implement a robust process occurred over an extended period,” he said.
“Robust processes must be implemented to ensure that Crown’s Melbourne casino remains free from criminal influence and exploitation. These are strict and legislated regulatory requirements, and this is an area where Crown has repeatedly failed.”
The VCGLR also recognises that the matter could be important to the Royal Commission’s investigation into the casino operator and licence, and it will continue to assist with the investigations.
Crown’s executive chairman, Helen Coonan, said: “Crown continues to engage with the VCGLR and the Victorian Government in relation to its reform agenda.
“These reforms and changes to our business are aimed at delivering the highest standards of governance and compliance as we restore public and regulatory confidence in our operations. As part of this reform agenda, Crown has already ceased dealing with all junket operators.”