Victoria to establish royal commission into Crown casino Melbourne

A Royal Commission on the suitability of Crown Melbourne to retain its Victorian casino license, as well as the suitability of its associates, including Crown Resorts, was formed by the Victorian government.

This comes after a scathing report commissioned by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority in New South Wales and headed by former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin, found that the business was not fit for the $2.2 billion Crown Sydney Hotel Resort to operate.

Criticism of the suitability of Crown

The almost 800-page criticism of the suitability of Crown, which itself followed suspicions raised by Australia’s Nine Network, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and other media outlets, alleged that Crown, or its agents, associates or subsidiaries, were involved in money laundering; violated gambling laws; and collaborated with junket operators connected to drug dealers, money launderers, human trafficking

The Royal Commission will be led by former Federal Court judge and senior barrister Raymond Finkelstein QC as Harold Mitchell became the newest director to resign with immediate effect from Crown.

Accountable for their actions

Victoria Premier’s Daniel Andrews commented: “This is about making sure that those who hold a casino licence in Victoria uphold the highest standards of probity and integrity – and that they’re accountable for their actions.” 

The government has also begun work to create an independent casino regulator, and Melissa Horne, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Control, has commissioned a review to advise on the systemic and governance arrangements required.

In conjunction with the Royal Commission

This will take place in conjunction with the Royal Commission which will also examine, among other items, the regulatory criteria for money laundering and junction operations.

Horne added: “The reports from New South Wales’ ILGA Inquiry were incredibly concerning, which is why we’re establishing a Royal Commission to get the answers we need about Crown Melbourne.

“The Royal Commission will establish the facts and the government and the VCGLR will take any necessary action at the conclusion of the investigation. We will not tolerate illegal behaviour in our gaming industry.”

Crown to cooperate fully

Crown notes that it will “cooperate fully with the Royal Commission,” and will continue to communicate with the VCGLR and the Government of Victoria in relation to its reform agenda and any further remedial measures found in response to the NSW ILGA investigation.

Crown’s Executive Chairman Helen Coonan noted: “Crown welcomes the announcement from the Victorian Government as it provides an opportunity to detail the reforms and changes to our business to deliver the highest standards of governance and compliance, and an organisational culture that meets community expectations. 

“Victorians should be assured we recognise the responsibility placed on us by the community, governments and regulators and we will fully cooperate with the Royal Commission.”