The Victorian government has announced plans to overhaul the regulation of gambling across the state via the establishment of a dedicated casino and gambling regulator.
The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC), which will take over regulation of gaming from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR), will have oversight of all gambling activities statewide, including a dedicated casino regulation division focused solely on Melbourne’s casino.
Notably, the government said, the separation of liquor and gaming will allow the VGCCC to “focus solely on regulating casino and gambling operators and minimizing harm.”
The decision to overhaul Victoria’s regulatory model follows revelations aired during the recent Royal Commission into Crown Melbourne’s suitability to retain its license. They included evidence that the VCGLR had lacked the resources to properly regulate Crown and that Crown had repeatedly failed to adhere to the VCGLR’s guidance around anti-money laundering and other compliance issues.
The VCGLR was also roundly criticized by five former employees in a recent Four Corners investigation on Australia’s ABC television network. The former employees, all casino inspectors, made wide ranging accusations from a lack of action after reporting alleged criminal activity on the floor of the casino to deliberate obstruction of the normal duties of the regulator. Former CEO and Executive Commissioner of Victoria’s state gaming regulator, Peter Cohen, recently discussed the accusations in a wide-ranging interview with IAG.
According to details released Tuesday, the new regulator will have greater oversight in monitoring gambling harm minimization measures in the casino and gambling sectors.
In particular, the casino division will house specialist leadership and staff as well as access to shared resources, and gambling and licensing expertise from the broader regulator.
More details will be made public following release of the Royal Commission’s findings in October, with the VCGLR to continue its normal operations in the meantime.
“We said we’d take action to strengthen casino oversight and that’s what we’re doing with the establishment of a new gambling and casino regulator,” said Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Melissa Horne.
“Unethical practices in the gambling industry won’t be tolerated – the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission will provide robust regulation of the Melbourne casino and wider gambling activity across the state.”
In a statement of its own shortly after details of the regulatory overhaul were released, the VCGLR said it remains “committed to continuing to support both the Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and License … as well as any processes required during any transition period to contribute to the successful establishment of the VGCCC.
“We will continue to deliver high quality regulation of the gaming and liquor industries without disruption to regulatory activity as the new regulator is established.”