The regulatory and coercive pressure on Australian gambling giants has steadily increased over the past few months. State authorities have opened inquiries and investigations into the largest casino and gaming companies in the country – Crown Resorts and its local competitor Featured Entertainment – placing legal obstacles to keep their businesses operating in Australia.
In fact, the last two years have been particularly difficult for companies, after the two aforementioned companies had to deal with allegations of links with criminal organizations, money laundering, social responsibility issues, bad business structure and management, as well as the use of so-called junket operators to bring wealthy foreign players to their Australian casinos.
After coping with the merely adverse financial effects of border closures following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the two casino and gambling operators tried to return to their pre-pandemic levels, with fewer visitors entering their gambling establishments. The economic turmoil that has been unleashed as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic has not been the only problems faced by gaming giants.
As mentioned above, Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment have been criticized for allegedly poor corporate structure which ultimately resulted in massive failures in terms of crime penetration, anti-money laundering and other issues. Both companies have seen a number of executives and managers submit their resignations during the investigations into their operations or following the investigations because renewing their corporate structure from scratch was seen as one of the major changes that need to be made for Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment
Crown Resorts re-investigated for providing credit in exchange for bank/blank checks
If anyone ever thought that the turmoil for Crown Resorts would end as soon as the company was acquired by the American private equity giant Blackstone for 8.9 billion Australian dollarsthis is hardly the case here.
Just a few days ago it became clear that the Victoria’s casino watchdog has taken regulatory action against Crown Resorts for the third time in 2022. As Casino caretaker Previously reported, the Victorian Gaming and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) launched an investigation into the use of blank and bank checks by players. The investigation could possibly lead to a fine of up to AUD 100 million.
The latest allegations facing the Australian gaming giant have led to an investigation into the company’s operations after the Royal Commission for the State of Victoria found that Crown Melbourne violated state laws by providing credit to play. One of the unfair practices currently under investigation involves exchanging a bank check for gambling chips, while another involves supplying casino customers who have handed in a blank check with chips . According to the findings of the Royal State Commission, high rollers were allowed to do so at the start of their gambling session, while the amount they owed was written down at the end of the game session.
As confirmed by VGCCC Chair Fran Thorn, the Royal Commission’s investigation revealed that Crown Resorts had engaged in certain practices involving the use of bank checks and blank checks – a movement that violated the restrictions on granting credit.
The latest revelations about the company could result in a fine of A$100 million being imposed on the company. A few months ago, in May, the state gambling regulator a fine of 80 million Australian dollars to the Crown to allow its casino customers to hide their gambling expenses such as travel and accommodation expenses using China Union Pay cards.
The Australian gambling giant has promised to provide its full cooperation to the Victorian gambling regulator on any issues that emerge as a result of the report which the royal commission delivered at the beginning of the month. A representative of the casino giant pointed out that Crown Resorts had already implemented major reforms and changes to its business model to respond to recommendations made by state governments and regulators.
Star Entertainment awaits report from NSW gambling regulator
Main competitor of Crown Resorts in the Australian casino and gambling sector – Featured Entertainment – also faced a series of inquiries and investigations following some fears that the operator could be unfit to hold casino licenses.
At the beginning of the month, the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) received the long-awaited report into alleged questionable practices at the Star Entertainment Sydney casino. The alleged transgressions ranged from links to from organized crime to money laundering. The company has also been accused of links to notorious junket operator Suncity, the controversial use of Chinese debit cards for gambling, bank deception, as well as how Salon 95 works – an illegal cage that catered particularly to high rollers.
At the time the report was delivered to it by Commissioner Adam Bell, the state gambling regulator had not set a specific date when the report regarding the Australian gambling giant fitness to hold a casino license would be made public.
As shared by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, Wexted Advisors has been appointed as an independent expert monitor and observe operations and internal procedures of Star Entertainment.
The state commissioner handed the report following a review involving a month and a half of public hearings into the operator’s Sydney casino, with lawyers assisting the inquiry saying the company was not unable to hold a casino operating license. The investigation in the state of New South Wales was triggered after several local media centers published documents accusing Star Entertainment of fraud, foreign interference in its gaming facilities, links to organized crime and money laundering.
In addition to the investigation into the company’s activities in New South Wales, the investigation into the activities of Star Entertainment initiated a class action lawsuit by shareholders which was filed against the company by the law firm Slater and Gordon. In addition, the company is now facing a similar investigation into its two casinos in the state of Queensland, after a regulatory review also uncovered some questionable business practices.
Olivia Cole has been working as a journalist for several years now. Over the past two years she has written about a number of industries and developed an interest in the UK gaming market.