A NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming inquiry into Crown Resorts has been told that the Australian casino giant is unsuitable to hold a state casino license due to breaches of key regulatory agreements.
Counsel assisting the inquiry, Adam Bell SC, provided his final submissions on Wednesday which included assertions that the considerable influence of major shareholder James Packer and his private investment vehicle Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH) had proven itself harmful to the public interest.
“We submit that the evidence presented to this inquiry demonstrates that the licensee is not a suitable person to continue to give effect to the license and that Crown Resorts is not a suitable person to be a close associate of the licensee,” Commissioner Patricia Bergin heard.
“It is submitted that the impact of that influence put Crown in breach of its regulatory agreements with the authority. The adverse impact of CPH in compromising the reporting lines of Crown Resorts was a factor leading to the China arrests.
“In those instances the adverse impact of CPH and Mr Packer, we submit, was ultimately harmful to the public interest, which is a primary object of the Casino Control Act to protect.”
While Commissioner Bergin will take Counsel’s recommendations into consideration before delivering her final report, due by 1 February 2021, revoking Crown’s license would be the most extreme verdict possible and, as previously reported by Inside Asian Gaming, is considered an unlikely result.
In a September note, JP Morgan analysts Donald Carducci and Abhinay Jeggannagari said a more feasible punishment would be temporary suspension of the license alongside certain requirements around addressing internal compliance issues.
Any such action throws into question Crown’s plans to open its AU$2.2 billion Crown Sydney development this December.
In giving his final submissions on Wednesday, Bell said he would take into account certain measures Crown could take to address its suitability, particularly as they relate to the influence of Packer and CPH.