A months-long public investigation finds Crown Resorts unfit to operate a future Sydney casino due to money laundering allegations.
The media first raised the allegations in 2014. Since then, the casino complex has been built, but there are no signs that its gaming section will open anytime soon.
Commissioner Patricia Bergin, a former Supreme Court Justice, said in a final report of the Crown investigation, commissioned by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) of New South Wales, that if the company wanted to be deemed fit for future operations, a series of significant cultural changes needed to be implemented.
Bergin’s recommendations have yet to be officially adopted by ILGA, but in the meantime, the casino component of Crown’s A $ 2.2 billion skyscraper will not be able to operate.
Crown said in his statement that he is seriously considering the report and will work with ILGA and the State Government “in relation to the findings and recommendations.”
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The investigation was aimed at finding out if Crown was in a position to receive a gaming license for the future facility. The gaming regulator ordered the investigation due to systematic problems at Crown’s existing casinos in Melbourne and Perth.
There are money laundering rumors linking Crown to private group travel operators that source the company’s VIP clients from abroad.
After President James Packer sold part of his shares to the Asian gaming giant Melco Resorts & Entertainment, his actions were considered a possible violation of Crown’s regulatory agreements. The investigation investigated that, as well as Packer’s involvement in the company after leaving office.
According to the report, when evaluating Crown’s future operations, the company was not in a position to open the future facility due to “poor corporate governance” and “poor risk management structures.”
Cultural changes were not the only recommendation in the report. He made 19 more, including several changes to the Casino Control Law, which was specifically aimed at addressing money laundering activities previously uncovered by the investigation.
Other suggestions from the report include the establishment of the Independent Casino Commission to operate independently with powers of a permanent Royal Commission to regulate the gaming sector. Ultimately, ICC will issue licenses and take disciplinary action.
The report also suggested banning New South Wales casino operators from dealing with junket operators.
NSW Minister of Customer Service Victor Dominello said the state government welcomed the recommendations, but before giving an official answer on the matter, you will consider them very carefully.
According to Justin Field, Independent MP for New South Wales, Bergin’s report announced that Crown’s Barangaroo license should finish.
He said: “What is absolutely clear is that there is no way this casino can be allowed to open in February.”
He added: “Ultimately, it is up to Crown if they want to take the steps outlined in the report to try to ‘convert to suitability’, but in the interest of the people of New South Wales, the current license and the agreement with Crown they should break. “
Source: “Crown Resorts is not suitable to operate Sydney casino, according to investigation”, ABC News, February 9, 2021