A Royal Commission currently underway into the suitability of Crown Perth to retain its casino license has been granted an additional four months to deliver its final report.
The Western Australia inquiry is the second Crown Resorts Royal Commission to take place this year, with Counsel Assisting Victoria’s Royal Commission into Crown Melbourne last week calling for the company to be found unsuitable. Former CEO and Executive Commissioner of Victoria’s state gaming regulator, Peter Cohen, has subsequently estimated the probability of Crown Melbourne retaining its casino license at “33% and shrinking”.
Originally due to be completed by mid-November 2021, the report is now expected to be delivered to Western Australia’s state government in March 2022.
The decision to extend the Western Australia Royal Commission was made after a similar extension was granted in Victoria, with officials stating Friday that Commissioners needed more time to carry out investigations and produce a final report with recommendations in line with the state government and public’s expectations.
They also revealed that an interim report has already been received and would be tabled in parliament in August.
“The state government has agreed to extend the timeline for the delivery of the Perth Casino Royal Commission final report to 4 March 2022,” said Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan.
“This will provide Commissioners with additional time to carry out their investigations and consider the findings of the Victorian Royal Commission.
“The state government believes that public interest will be best served if the Perth Casino Royal Commission has sufficient time to produce its final report.”
As previously reported by IAG, the Terms of Reference for the Western Australia Royal Commission call for the inquiry to investigate 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 is also 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 is to include identifying and addressing any actual or perceived conflicts of interest by officers involved in Western Australia’s casino regulation, and suggesting how the regulatory framework might be enhanced to address any areas of concern or weakness.
Like Victoria, Western Australia called its Royal Commission in 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.