Crown Casino keeps license in Melbourne

Article by Jaqueline Quintero
crown melbourne
Last Updated: Apr 30th, 2024 Share On Your Network:

Melbourne’s Crown Casino has been handed a short-term reprieve. The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has stated that the iconic casino can keep its gaming license—for now. 

A 2021 Royal Commission Report determined that Melbourne’s Crown Casino was “unsuitable” as a casino license holder in the state. 

The report, completed by Commissioner Ray Finkelstein, found numerous issues with Crown Casino, some relating to its “illegal, dishonest, and unethical behaviour.” 

But as the casino is the biggest single-site employer in Melbourne, the Commission announced that it should not immediately lose its license. 

After all, the casino employs more than 10,000 people, and the impact of those people losing their jobs would be significant if it were forced to close its doors. 

$120 million fine and a “special manager” 

The 2021 report on the Crown was scathing, finding illegal and dishonest behaviour at numerous levels within the casino’s operation. 

One of the primary outcomes of the initial report was that the Crown would need to operate for two years under a “special manager” who would institute widespread changes within the casino to save it from closing. 

As a result of its failings, the Crown Casino received a $120 million fine from the VGCCC for breaches in gambling laws that were found to span more than a decade. 

Any legal casino in the state must prioritise player safety over profit, which is something that Crown failed to do on countless occasions.

Some of the failings related to responsible gambling, as the casino enabled punters to gamble on the floor for more than 24 hours at a time. 

Casino management also allowed punters to use plastic picks to keep poker machines playing without pressing a button each time, a practice that the VGCCC has condemned in the strongest terms. 

$450 million anti-money laundering fine after Austrac lawsuit  

Crown Casino wasn’t just in trouble for its neglect of responsible gambling. 

In a lawsuit by Australian watchdog Austrac, Crown admitted it failed to track and report suspicious transactions to prevent money laundering. 

Justice Michael Lee described the failings as “egregious” and issued a fine of $450 million, which would be paid in interest-free instalments over two years. 

All told, one of Australia’s most famous casinos received combined fines of more than $500 million for offences described as egregious, unethical, and illegal. So, how and why has it been able to keep its license? 

Systemic failures addressed at the Crown 

Between 2021 and 2023, the Crown Melbourne underwent seismic changes. In fact, the operator spent more than $200 million on instituting changes within the business, many guided by the Melbourne Remediation Action Plan. 

This implemented more than 300 initiatives across eight workstreams within the business, including areas like financial crime, risk and compliance, governance, and harm minimisation. 

Addressing these systemic failures was enough for the VGCCC to decide that the Crown’s license should not be revoked. 

This is primarily because more than 10,000 people are employed at the casino, and closing its doors would greatly impact the lives of many Victorians. 

The Commission has also promised to monitor the Crown closely in the following weeks and months to ensure its operations don’t fall back into old habits. 

Looking to the future – Melbourne’s “safest” gambling venue?

Fran Thorn, the VGCCC Chairperson, noted that a very different Crown Casino is emerging after two years, with important changes made. 

Crown Casino’s CEO, Mike Volkert, said that retaining its Victoria license was one of its most significant milestones.

He said: “We know the work doesn’t stop here, and we are committed to delivering the highest industry standards and putting the welfare of our guests at the forefront of decision-making, day in and day out.”

He even described the Crown as the “safest venue in Victoria for gaming and entertainment,” which many punters may take with a pinch of salt. 

While the casino has responded well to the VGCCC’s fine and mandated actions, Crown has a lot of work on its hands when it comes to rebuilding trust among Victorians. 

As there are numerous casinos in Melbourne where you can gamble, it will be interesting to see how the Crown has recovered over the past few years. 

Remember to gamble responsibly 

The Crown’s failings re-assert the importance of gambling responsibly. While casinos and bookmakers are required to provide responsible gambling in Australia, every gambler also has a personal responsibility to stay in control. 

You can do this by setting your own limits and sticking to them, whether you gamble online or play at brick-and-mortar casinos in Melbourne. 

You should also look at gambling as a form of entertainment and not as a way to make money. You can win or lose every time you play, so managing your expectations is key to keeping things fun. 

At Betsquare, we take responsible gambling seriously and encourage our readers to bet within their means. 

Find out more on our responsible gambling page, and if you feel like you have a gambling problem, please reach out to GamStop and make use of free online self-exclusion and other tools. 

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