Residents of the state of New South Wales (NSW) could be required to pay millions of dollars in compensation to the Australian gambling giant Crown Resorts in case the casino company is ordered to roll out stricter controls to guarantee that its Barangaroo casino would not become an arena for any criminal activity.
The past two months have seen an inquiry held by the NSW state government into the casino operator’s due diligence and legal compliance procedures associated with its business relationship with so-called junket operators, who have been bringing affluent customers to the company’ casinos. According to some allegations, these operators have been having links to international criminal organisations that have been laundering money through Crown Resorts’ Australian casinos.
As revealed by The Sydney Morning Herald, under the terms of the agreement that was signed between the gambling operator and Mike Baird’s Government in 2014 for the opening of Crown’s second casino in Sydney, the casino giant could require compensation that is worth 10 and a half times the estimated negative financial impact that any action taken by the NSW Government that ended up with some changes brought to the company’s operating licence.
Under the aforementioned clause, Crown Resorts has the right to claim the same compensation for any action of the Government that has affected its liabilities, assets, properties, operations, operating results, future prospects, and reputation in a negative way. Furthermore, the clause allows the gambling giant to claim compensation in case the findings of the state authorities’ probe lead to new restrictions on its AU$2.2-billion Barangaroo facility’s operation, or to the company’s junket partners.
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According to Justin Field, an Independent Member of Parliament in the NSW, the agreement clause and the compensation originating from the probe could seriously affect the state’s Government future actions on the recommendation to keep money laundering and organised crime away from Crown’s Sydney-based properties.
As Mr Field explained for The Sydney Morning Herald, there are questions associated with the failed probity process for the Crown’s licence, as such agreement clauses are considered dangerous for the regulation that the Parliament and the Government are supposed to carry out in the public interest.
The Independent MP believes that the NSW Government should cancel the company’s operating licence and bring forward some rules to make sure no more compensation clauses are agreed on unless Crown officially pledges not to seek compensation for any regulatory changes that have been triggered by the probe.
The inquiry into the gambling company’s operations is set to report back to the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) by February 1st, 2021 on whether the casino operator is suitable to hold its licence. If Crown Resorts is found unsuitable by the inquiry, it would be required to make some changes in its policies so that becomes a suitable entity for holding that licence.
Some anti-gambling campaigners have shared that the probe that is being faced by the company could find that the company is unsuitable to hold any casino operating licence, and it was obvious that Crown Resorts should not have been allowed to operate a Barangaroo casino.