Victoria’s gaming regulator, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR), has announced an independent investigation into allegations raised by an Australian current affairs program this week over the effectiveness of its regulation of Crown Resorts.
According to the Four Corners report, aired Monday, the regulator saw its powers substantially reduced after it merged with the liquor regulator to become the VCGLR in 2012. The merger allegedly saw budgets for gaming regulation slashed, with five former gaming inspectors telling Four Corners that it ultimately led to Crown self-regulating and actively blocking them from investigating money laundering.
Barry McGann, Gaming Inspector from 2007 to 2018, said that while Crown initially feared the regulator, from the merger onwards, “Crown dictated the terms to us” and that “Audits were disappearing”.
On Thursday, VCGLR chair Ross Kennedy said an independent investigation will now be conducted into the allegations made by former inspectors, to be conducted by Dr Ian Freckelton QC. The investigation will begin immediately and the findings made public at its conclusion.
Kennedy also revealed that the five former VCGLR Inspectors who appeared on the Four Corners program will be invited to participate in the investigation, which will be granted open access to the VCGLR’s records and personnel as required.
News of this latest investigation came on the same day as Crown Resorts Chairman Helen Coonan provided testimony at a Royal Commission into Crown’s suitability to retain its casino license for Crown Melbourne.