A new Royal Commission in the state of Victoria is set to test the suitability of Crown Resorts to run its Melbourne casino after a NSW inquiry into the Australian gambling giant found it unsuitable to hold the operating licence for its newest casino in Sydney. The Royal Commission is required to issue a report by August 1st, 2021.
Raymond Finkelstein QC, a former federal court judge and senior barrister, has been appointed commissioner.
The Government of the state of Victoria issued a statement, saying that the move was initiated after the inquiry of the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) found Crown Resorts unfit to operate its Barangaroo casino. Since receiving the official ILGA report, the Victorian Government had taken advice regarding the most appropriate way to proceed in the state. The statement also claims that the establishment of a Royal Commission is set to guarantee the most appropriate access to information about the suitability of the Australian gambling operator to hold its Melbourne casino licence.
A review into the suitability of Crown to hold its licence, which is set to be held along with the Royal Commission’s probe, had already been established by the Government.
Victorian Government to Take Action against Casino Operator If Necessary
Premier Daniel Andrews has explained that the establishment of the Royal Commission and the inquiry into Crown Melbourne’s operations are all about making sure that the companies that hold a casino licence in Victoria are in line with the highest probity and integrity standards, and if not, they are held accountable for their failures.
Melissa Horne, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, shared she found the findings of the NSW inquiry extremely concerning. She further noted that the Royal Commission would establish the facts and the Victorian Government and state gambling authority would take action at the conclusion of the investigation, if necessary. Ms Horne said that the state government has no intention of tolerating illegal behaviour in the local gambling sector.
Earlier in February, the inquiry of the former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin SC came to an end, providing evidence that Crown Resorts had facilitated money laundering operations, ignored the welfare of its Chinese workers before 19 of them got arrested in 2016, and had been working in collaboration with so-called junket operators linked to organised crime gangs. Commissioner Bergin said that the investigation findings proved Crown Resorts was unsuitable to hold the casino licence for its Barangaroo casino due to poor governance.
As Casino Guardian reported at the time, much of the negative evidence against the Australian gambling giant was associated with incidents that occurred at Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth. Besides, the Bergin inquiry exposed the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) and the state government for their failures to act on some allegations that had been previously raised by local media, whistleblowers and Members of Parliament.
So far, the Premier and his Cabinet have defended the work of the Victorian gambling regulator but they gave their approval for the establishment of the Royal Commission.