The Perth Casino Royal Commission into the suitability of Crown Resorts and its associated entities to continue running Crown Perth has found the company unsuitable but provided a two-year window in which the company can return to suitability under the watch of an independent monitor.
The final report of the Perth Casino Royal Commission, released Thursday, echoes the findings of the recent Victorian Royal Commission into Crown Melbourne which refrained from immediate cancellation of the Melbourne license and opted instead to implement a monitor.
In releasing its findings, the Perth Royal Commission said that each of Burswood Nominees Ltd, Crown Resorts Limited, Burswood Limited and Burswood Resort (Management) Limited was not a suitable person to be concerned in or associated with the organization and conduct of gaming operations of a licensed casino, and that Burswood Nominees Ltd is not a suitable person to continue to hold the gaming licence for Crown Perth.
“We determined that in order to become suitable each entity would be required to embark on a pathway to suitability, with their remediation activities overseen by an independent monitor,” the report said.
“This pathway would take about two years to travel. At the end of it, the monitor would provide a report to the Gaming and Wagering Commission.”
The report also includes a total of 59 recommendations – many with multiple clauses – covering everything from Crown’s corporate and boardroom structures to responsible gambling and anti-money laundering controls.
Those recommendations include a call for the board of Burswood Ltd to be increased from its current size of four, comprising a majority of non-executive directors and including at least two people independent of Crown Resorts.
On the casino floor itself, the report calls for a binding loss pre-commitment and play period limits scheme for electronic gaming machine (EGM) play requiring all patrons to pre-set weekly loss and time limits. It also suggests a $10 maximum bet limit on all EGMs on the main gaming floor and a requirement for patrons to take a 15-minute break after three hours of continuous EGM play. Restricting each patron to a maximum of 12 hours of EGM play daily and 28 hours weekly is recommended.
The final report also takes aim at Western Australia’s regulatory regime, described as “not fit for purpose” and requiring replacement with a modern regulatory framework.
“It was flawed from conception in that it failed to identify the legislative objectives of casino regulation,” the report says.
“We have further found that there have been numerous deficiencies in the manner in which the Gaming and Wagering Commission has exercised its power and responsibilities in relation to casinos and casino gaming.”
The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries has contributed to these failures, it added, by giving the Commission more duties and functions without a corresponding or sufficient increase in expertise, numbers and funding.
This has “resulted in deficient regulation of the risks from the organization and conduct of gaming operations at Perth Casino. This regulatory failure has, in turn, contributed to the past and current failure of the Perth Casino licensee and its associates to adequately mitigate those same risks.”
Notably, the report acknowledges the steps already taken by Crown in the wake of the Bergin Inquiry in NSW and the Victorian Royal Commission.
“The Remediation Plan developed and partially implemented by Crown during 2021 and into 2022 means that the factual matrix in respect of which the Perth Casino Royal Commission is required to opine is different from the one with which the New South Wales inquiry dealt and different again from that which confronted the Victorian inquiry,” it says.
“A lot has changed, mainly for the better, even since the Victorian inquiry reported in October 2021.”
In a filing, Crown said it would “work cooperatively and constructively” with the Western Australian Government in relation to the findings and recommendations of the final report.
“Significant progress has been made with Crown’s transformation program, the implementation of company-wide reforms, and establishing the highest standards of governance,” said Crown’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Steve McCann. “This includes investment in people, systems, processes, culture and a sharp focus on responsible gaming and the prevention of financial crime.
“Crown remains committed to continuous improvement across all facets of the business and is prioritising the delivery of safe and responsible gaming across all of our resorts, including Crown Perth.”