Western Australia has released its Terms of Reference for an impending Royal Commission into Crown Resorts, with a mandate to explore the company’s suitability to hold a casino gaming license for Crown Perth and the adequacy of the state’s regulatory framework.
The Royal Commission, announced last month, is Western Australia’s response to the Bergin Report in NSW, which recommended Crown Resorts be deemed unsuitable to hold a license for the casino at Crown Sydney due to money laundering and organized crime links. The report was released on 9 February and New South Wales’ gaming regulator, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA), subsequently concurred with the Bergin Report’s recommendation and found Crown unsuitable, less than a week after the report was made public.
According to the Terms of Reference issued Friday, the WA Royal Commission will be required to inquire and report on the suitability of Crown Resorts and its local subsidiaries to continue to hold a license for Crown Perth and, if found unsuitable, what actions would be required to render them suitable.
It will also be required to look at whether or not the current regulatory framework is adequately prepared to “address extant and emerging strategic risks identified in the Bergin Report, or otherwise by this inquiry, including in relation to junket operations, money laundering, cash and electronic transactions and the risk of infiltration by criminal elements into casino operations.”
The regulatory aspect of the inquiry will include identifying and addressing any actual or perceived conflicts of interest by officers involved in WA’s casino regulation, and suggesting how the regulatory framework might be enhanced to address any areas of concern or weakness.
However, it seems unlikely that WA’s Royal Commission will be as comprehensive as the NSW inquiry was last year, with the Terms of Reference stating the Commissioner is “not required to inquire, or to continue to inquire, into a particular matter to the extent that you are satisfied that the matter has been, is being, or will be sufficiently and appropriately dealt with by another inquiry or investigation.”
In particular, it states that the Commissioner may utilize any evidence already contained within the Bergin Report, including public transcripts of evidence, as part of their own investigative work.
A deadline of 30 June 2021 is provided for submission of an interim report and 14 November 2021 for a final report with recommendations.