The long-time anti-gambling campaigner and independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie has shared an opinion that the failure of the Victorian gambling regulator and police to properly investigate claims of Crown Casino Melbourne’s wrongdoings hinted of an actual possibility of corruption.
Mr Wilkie addressed the Victorian anti-corruption regulator when reminding the Parliament that since 2017 he had provided both state’s police and the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VGLR) with evidence of illegal poker machine tampering and money laundering taking place at the Southbank casino property of Crown. According to him, the bizarre reactions of both the Victorian gambling regulator and the state’s police could be considered as grounds for him to believe in a “very real” possibility of corruption.
The independent MP also presented the Parliament with a letter he has sent to the Anti-corruption Commission urging the regulator to start an investigation in the considerable influence Crown Resorts has over the VCGLR and Victoria Police.
Mr Wilkie questioned why it took the state’s gambling regulatory body six months to establish that the operator’s casino in Melbourne had unlawfully used a forbidden blank-button scheme to modify some of some poker machines’ buttons. It also took the regulator 15 months to find that the casino had provided its patrons with multiple loyalty cards which allowed players to use more than one poker machine at a time. The independent MP also questioned why the VCGLR needed 17 months to find that the Crown Casino Melbourne had provided patrons with branded plastic picks, encouraging them to jam the replay buttons of the machines to get automatic non-stop spins.
Andrew Wilkie Questions Delays of Investigation Held by VCGLR against Crown
Mr Wilkie shared that all of the above-mentioned delays pushed the findings of the local gambling regulatory body to after the 5-year licence review of Crown Casino Melbourne, even though the investigation findings were important to the review process. However, in August 2018, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation gave the green light to the renewal of Crown’s operating licence, despite establishing that the casino had failed to properly address gambling addiction.
According to the independent MP, the alterations made through the button-blanking technique should have been crucial when the VCGLR made a decision that Crown is suitable to hold a casino operating licence. Instead of doing that, the gambling regulatory body delayed the investigation process to make sure that there would not be any obstructions to re-issue Crown’s licence, Mr Wilkie claims.
All of the aforementioned facts give grounds to Mr Wilkie to believe that there is some kind of influence or interference to the decision-making process of the Victorian gambling regulator.
As far as Victoria Police is concerned, the anti-gambling campaigner explained that the force refused to investigate allegations of money laundering, drug sale and domestic violence on the territory of the complex.