Crown Resorts Halts All Junket Activity Until June 30 2021

In a Friday filing, the Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd said it had suspended “all activity” with external gaming-junket partners, with effect until 30 June 2021. The firm told the Australian stock exchange that the move was part of its “compliance and governance processes” review. The flagship property of Crown Resorts, Crown Melbourne in Victoria, is presently closed because of pandemic countermeasures in that province.

During a public inquiry requested by an Australian state casino regulator, the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA), the decision on the pause about junkets follows a review of the relationship between Crown Resorts and junkets involving overseas players, and how much control the casino company exerted over that market segment.

The investigation found the suitability of Crown Resorts for a casino licence for a new property built at Barangaroo in Sydney, the state capital.

The suitability of Macau operator Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, led by Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, a son of former Macau monopolist Stanley Ho Hung Sun, as an investor in Crown Resorts, was an original priority. After Melco Resorts sold off its interests in the Australian business, the emphasis shifted somewhat.

Nevertheless, the investigation included issues such as whether Crown Resorts may have facilitated money laundering; may have violated gambling laws; or may have collaborated with junctions that have connexions to illegal activities.

Naomi Sharp, a lawyer assisting the investigation, had questioned at Thursday’s session of the probe what practical impact a suspension of Crown Resorts’ links with outside junctions would have, while Australia’s borders are essentially closed to overseas inbound travellers.

Chief executive Ken Barton stated during the Thursday session: “… with [Crown] Melbourne closed, which is our main casino, there’s been no prospect of any significant junket activity.”

Mr Barton also informed the inquiry that his company was implementing recommendations made by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., a professional services firm. The consultant was ordered by Crown Resorts to prepare a report on the approval process for its external junkets.

Mr Barton added: “The AML [anti-money laundering] team or the financial crimes team will be the predominant source of review of the approval or continuation of a relationship with a junket. I will be having oversight, but… the financial crimes team reports through to the board.

“Ultimately, it will be the head of financial crimes who will decide around whether we commence or continue a relationship with a junket.”

Crown Resorts said in the Friday filing that it had begun a recruitment process to recruit someone for the newly established “head of compliance and financial crimes” job.

In the filing, the casino operator also listed its intention to launch the Crown Sydney Hotel Resort in stages, as the company referred to the Barangaroo scheme, beginning “on or around” 14 December. The company expected to have 129 table games and 66 electronic table-game terminals spread inside the podium of the new property across two gaming rooms; and an additional 30 table games in around 12 private gaming salons.