Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia could be set to be hit with a fine of up to AU $100m after the Victorian Gambling And Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) began another raft of disciplinary proceedings against the casino.
The state of Victoria had already completed their initial investigation into the goings-on at the casino, and as part of that investigation, they found that Crown may well have been in violation of several different elements of the state’s Responsible Services of Gambling regulations.
While this secondary investigation does not focus on casino links to organised crime, or money laundering or similar, it is still a very serious allegation and one that adds further pressure to the casino’s owners.
That initial investigation into Crown’s activities in Melbourne, Victoria began in February 2021 and was initiated after the Bergin Inquiry found that Crown were not suitable for a licence in New South Wales.
“Problem Or Risky Gambling”
After completing their secondary investigation into the casino operator, the VGCCC announced on Monday this week that it had begun further disciplinary proceedings against Crown, stating that the casino operator had not been “adequately supervising or interacting with hundreds or possibly thousands of customers who exhibited signs of problem or risky gambling.”
Ahead of their deliberations, the VGCCC has asked Crown to send them information on how it has implemented and fulfilled its Responsible Services of Gambling obligations.
The committee will then review this information before deciding what disciplinary action to take against Crown.
That could result in a fine of up to AU$100m, or the casino could even have its licensed changed or withdrawn until they have managed to rectify the situation with guidance from the VGCCC.
“No More Important Obligation”
Given the fact that promoting responsible, affordable and safe betting has become a minimum standard for companies seeking a license to operate almost anywhere in the world, it is staggering to think that Crown would flout these regulations to such an extent.
Those regulations regarding responsible gambling are applied across all forms of wagering, whether you are sports or esports betting in Australia, playing bingo or slot games, or indeed trying your luck in newer attractions such as an esports casino.
Fran Thorn, the chair of the VGCCC, stressed that there was “no more important obligation” that a casino has than to ensure they follow responsible gambling protocols as they were “designed to protect vulnerable patrons and to prevent gambling related harm to patrons, their families and the community.”
Thorn confirmed this was the focus for the inquiry, commenting:
“We heard many distressing stories at the Royal Commission of vulnerable patrons being encouraged to gamble beyond their means.”
“The VGCCC will therefore be unflinching in its resolve to deal with the issues uncovered at the Royal Commission regarding Crown’s approach to responsible gambling, and to ensure the casino operator acts in line with its legal obligations and the community’s expectations.”
Another Investigation Ongoing
Even if Crown Melbourne can get some kind of resolution to the investigation into their application of Responsible Gambling laws, the company is also in hot water after another investigation was launched against it back in April 2022.
The VGCCC found that the casino had put in place a process where they could accept Chinese currency, flouting regulations against accepting the currency in the state, by using a China Union Pay system.
The results of that investigation may be some time away yet, but Crown’s reputation has already taken a battering and it is clear that the casino needs to make significant changes in order to continue operating within Australia.