A counsel assisting the Victoria Royal Commission’s investigation into Crown Resorts has suggested that the cancellation of the Australian gambling giant‘s Melbourne casino licence could be postponed by up to 18 months in order to provide the company with time to bring some improvements into its structure or allow the state’s government to choose a new operator for the licence.
According to the counsel familiar with the situation, such a delay would help the authorities bring the expected disruption associated with the casino licence cancellation and the negative consequences this could have on third parties to a minimum. In their written closing submission to the probe, the counsel that Crown Melbourne could once again apply for its casino operating licence in case it can prove its sustainability but also noted that the gambling company would not reach that point for up to 5 years.
Of course, the Royal Commission of the state of Victoria could decide not to strip Crown Melbourne of its casino licence. However, according to the assisting counsel, the regulatory should at least appoint some further monitoring of the cultural and operational reforms that are expected to be handled by the operator in order to make sure the gambling company is fit to hold an operating permit for the sole casino venue in Melbourne.
Adrian Finanzio SC also confirmed previous comments that the investigation into the gambling giant’s operations found issues of character and integrity associated with the Crown chair Helen Coonan and the CEO of Crown Melbourne Xavier Walsh. Reportedly, these issues prevented Ms Coonan and Mr Walsh from becoming part of the company’s ongoing reforms.
Cancellation of Crown Melbourne Casino Licence Would Have Negative Consequences
As reported by Casino Guardian last week, the written submissions on the matter are set to be taken into consideration by Commissioner Ray Finkelstein, QC.
Last week, Mr Finanzio said that Crown Resorts should be stripped of its Melbourne casino licence because of systematic breaches of law that were found by the Royal Commission. These breaches included violations of responsible gambling laws, alleged tax underpayments of almost half a million dollars, misleading regulatory bodies and enabling possible money laundering activities.
The extensive written submission warned against possible immediate cancellation of the casino operating licence, saying that such a move would have an extremely negative effect for many people involved with the sole Melbourne casino, at least in the short term. Reportedly, negative consequences would occur even for third parties that had not been involved in the misconduct.
On the other hand, if the Victorian Government grants another casino company the licence that is currently still being held by Crown Melbourne, the disruption may turn out to be in the public interest, in the long run, the assistant counsel’s recommendation said. The recommendation also claims that any cancellation of the casino licence would have to provide an adequate period for adjustment, even if it comes to an application by a new potential licence holder.
The submission says that in case the Victoria’s Royal Commission decides that Crown Resorts is no longer suitable to hold its Melbourne casino licence, there would be disruption in the local gambling market. The extent of the disruption would depend on the result of the Royal Commission’s ruling.