While Crown Resorts finds itself under the blowtorch following recent news reports alleging links to Asian crime syndicates and questioning its relationship with junkets, an Australian regulator says the chances of Crown’s Victorian gaming license being revoked is next to none.
“Theoretically it’s possible but it would be a last resort,” said Michael Sarquis, Acting Deputy Director-General Liquor Gaming and Fair Trading, Department of Justice and Attorney-General in Queensland, in an interview with Inside Asian Gaming at the Gaming, Racing and Wagering Australia conference in Sydney on Monday.
“I don’t find it surprising that once an operator is given a license, the chances of losing that license is very low. If the regulator has done their job well, then they have issued that license with the idea of it being held for a long time.
“That’s not to say problems don’t arise from time to time. That can happen in a number of ways – pulling them aside for a chat, fining them or even issuing a censure. But we are very well regulated in Australia so the chances of a loss of license is very low and if there is a significant issue it usually comes down to individuals, so those individuals just part ways with the company.”
Although Queensland regulators don’t have any direct relationship with Crown Resorts given that the Australian casino operator lacks any physical presence in Queensland, the issue has nevertheless found its way onto Sarquis’ radar in recent days after Star Entertainment Group CEO Matt Bekier was forced to defend his company’s use of Asian-based junkets. Star operates The Star Gold Coast and is developing the AU$3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf development in Brisbane.
Asked what the Queensland regulator’s response to those reports might be, Sarquis said, “In a direct sense there is nothing that we have a specific incentive to look at but whenever anything like this happens we step back and look at the control processes we have in place, make sure we’re comfortable with those both from our point of view and from Star’s point of view and make doubly sure that controls are appropriate.
“We liaise with other regulators and other organizations and just make sure there are no red flags there. Of course we’ll keep an eye on the Crown investigation and make sure there are no issues highlighted there either.”