The government of Western Australia has revealed that it will follow the lead of Victoria by holding a Royal Commission into the suitability of Crown Resorts to continue holding a casino license for Crown Perth.
Friday’s announcement follows a recent call by the Gaming and Wagering Commission of Western Australia (GWC) for an independent inquiry to be held into Crown Resorts in the wake of the Bergin Report, which found Crown unsuitable to operate a casino in the state of NSW.
Victoria announced on 22 February that it would hold a Royal Commission into the company’s suitability to continue operating Crown Melbourne with WA now confirming it will follow suit.
Aside from looking at Crown, the WA Royal Commission will also also examine the state’s regulatory framework including any actual or perceived conflicts of interest by officers involved in casino regulation, and any matters that might enhance the Gaming and Wagering Commission’s future capability and effectiveness, the government said in a statement.
An interim report in relation to the regulatory framework is expected to be delivered by 30 June 2021 and a final report with findings and recommendations by 14 November 2021.
“The Royal Commission will provide the next State Government with a thorough and independent examination of the suitability of Crown Perth to hold a casino license following the Bergin Inquiry’s findings of suspected money laundering and junkets linked to organized crime,” said Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia.
“The Commission will also closely examine the state’s current regulatory framework, the functions of the Gaming and Wagering Commission and provide recommendations for enhancing future regulatory capabilities and effectiveness.
“The Gaming and Wagering Commission has already directed Crown to no longer hold junkets and to obtain the Commission’s approval to establish gaming bank accounts to ensure the activities highlighted in the Bergin Inquiry cannot occur.
“The state’s regulators have also formed working groups with their eastern states counterparts to ensure consistence for any future regulatory reform.”
Crown issued a statement of its own on Friday afternoon in which Executive Chairman Helen Coonan said, “The WA Royal Commission will provide an opportunity for Crown to detail the reforms and changes to our business to deliver the highest standards of governance and compliance, and an organizational culture that meets community expectations.”
Coonan is currently working with regulators in NSW to get Crown back to suitability after it opened only the non-gaming facilities of its AU$2.2 billion (US$1.6 billion) Crown Sydney development in December.
Five Crown directors, as well as CEO Ken Barton and General Counsel and Company Secretary Mary Manos, have already stepped down since release of the Bergin Report last month.