Crown Resorts could face sanctions in its home state of Victoria after the gaming regulator issued a notice to show cause why it should not be disciplined for alleged failures of its internal junket controls.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) revealed Friday that the notice required Crown to “show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken for failing to ensure that controls regarding junket participants were implemented by Crown during relevant times, particularly in relation to Crown’s due diligence in the supervision and approval of junket participants.”
Such action, it added, may include the imposition of a fine, issuing of a letter of censure or an order for Crown to take corrective action, but doesn’t pose any threat to Crown Melbourne’s casino license.
Issuance of the notice comes despite the VCGLR having already completed an investigation into Crown’s operations, launched in the wake of explosive allegations aired by Australian media outlets in August 2019 alleging money laundering within Crown’s VIP rooms.
It also follows three days of testimony by Crown’s largest shareholder and former Executive Chairman, James Packer, at a NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry into Crown’s suitability to hold a casino license for its new AU$2.2 billion Crown Sydney development, due to open on 14 December.
The inquiry has raised questions over the company’s due diligence processes in relation to its international VIP operations and the failed attempt by Packer to sell a 19.99% stake to Melco Resorts & Entertainment. It has also revealed that Packer continues to maintain strong influence over the Crown board despite stepping down as a director in 2018.
Multiple industry sources have told Inside Asian Gaming that Crown is highly unlikely to lose its NSW casino license but may be ordered to complete certain actions before it can open in Sydney.
In response to questions about the Victorian response, the VCGLR said Friday it had “considered how internal controls at Crown could be strengthened to better ensure that the management and operation of the casino remains free from criminal influence or exploitation.
“VCGLR has commenced work to strengthen controls, particularly regarding the probity of junket participants at the casino, and improvements are expected to be in place by the end of the year.”