The Victorian state government has granted a request by the Royal Commission into Crown Melbourne for more time and more funding following revelations raised in recent weeks around tax avoidance, problem gambling measures and the company’s corporate culture.
According to a statement issued by the Acting Premier’s office, the Royal Commission has been granted an 11-week extension to complete its work, from 1 August 2021 to 15 October 2021, with funding almost doubled from AU$10 million to AU$19.75 million.
The government said the seriousness of evidence tendered meant Commissioner Ray Finkelstein was now investigating wider range of matters and needed further time to prepare and examine requested documents and for the Commission to undertake sufficient consultation with relevant and interested parties.
“We established this Royal Commission to get the answers we need about Crown – and this extension will ensure the scope of evidence provided so far is able to be thoroughly considered,” said Acting Premier James Merlino.
The Royal Commission is examining whether Crown Resorts is fit to hold a Victorian casino licence for its flagship business, Crown Melbourne, opened in 1994.
Among the allegations raised during the Royal Commission are that Crown Melbourne avoided paying up to AU$200 million in taxes by classifying comps, including free parking, as gambling winnings, and that customers were regularly allowed to play for 12 hours before being approached by staff.
Crown’s Executive Chairman, Helen Coonan, said, “As Executive Chairman, I have made clear that any shortcomings identified by the Royal Commissions will be addressed. The Board and I are committed to making Crown a stronger, more transparent and respected company.
“We have initiated a sweeping program of significant reforms, enhancements and personnel changes. We cannot change the past, but we can be absolutely steadfast in the approach we take to driving the culture and transparency of the company into the future”.