Swifts Join the Fight Against Gambling Harm

Swifts Join the Fight Against Gambling Harm

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The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has ruled Australian casino giant Crown Resorts can keep its Crown Melbourne casino licence.

The full Commission decided that Crown Melbourne has addressed the failings identified by the 2021 Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence.

Commission Chair Fran Thorn said that the Royal Commission detailed how Crown Melbourne had breached its legal, social and moral obligations, resulting in illegal activities, tax avoidance, money laundering, criminal associations and significant harm to vulnerable community members, ultimately finding Crown Melbourne unsuitable to hold the Melbourne Casino Licence.

“Despite the enormity of its findings, the Finkelstein Royal Commission recommended Crown be permitted to continue operating under stringent independent oversight conditions for two years, determining it had the will and capacity to transform itself to again become suitable, which would be to Victoria’s benefit,” she said.

The Victorian Government responded decisively to the Royal Commission’s findings, appointing a Special Manager to oversee Crown Melbourne’s operations and remediation. It also established the VGCCC as a new regulator focussed solely on the gambling industry and created a specific set of enhanced powers with respect to the Melbourne casino.

The Commission was given the responsibility of deciding whether it was clearly satisfied that Crown Melbourne had returned to suitability and whether the Melbourne Casino Licence remained in the public interest. In making its independent determination, the Commission carefully considered the reports of the Royal Commission and other relevant inquiries, the reports of the Special Manager. Those reports considered the steps Crown Melbourne had taken to address the matters identified by the Royal Commission and the measures to ensure they would not be repeated.

Commissioner Thorn said the Special Manager’s final report concluded that Crown Melbourne has remediated the failings exposed in the Royal Commission and established the critical foundations needed to achieve sustainable overall transformation in coming years.

“There was no evidence of maladministration or illegal or improper conduct indicative of the serious and systemic failures previously identified by the Royal Commission, and these failings had been addressed,” she said.

Commissioner Thorn said that Crown Melbourne had demonstrated to the satisfaction of both the Commission and the Special Manager that it had introduced extensive reforms to prevent or reduce gambling harm, financial crime and money laundering. It has also addressed systemic risk management failures and strengthened its integrity framework.

“During our investigations, we observed a different Crown Melbourne emerging with a clear understanding of the privilege and obligations of holding the Melbourne Casino Licence,” she said.

The Commission’s decision was also supported by Crown Melbourne’s comprehensive transformation plan, required by the Special Manager, against which it will continue to be held accountable going forward.

“That transformation plan will be at the heart of our oversight, along with Crown’s legal and social obligations, and provides the next level standard for Crown Melbourne. The Commission will require Crown Melbourne to deliver further transformation through a statutory direction that will be issued shortly,” she said.

Along with the VGCCC’s strengthened oversight regime and enforcement powers, the VGCCC has established a new, specialist Casino Division providing confidence that Crown Melbourne will be held stringently accountable in the future, including for its ongoing transformation.

Commissioner Thorn said: “In return for the privilege of an exclusive licence, Victorians have a right to expect that Crown Melbourne will never again prioritise profit ahead of the safety and wellbeing of its patrons and staff or over compliance with its legal and social obligations.

“Crown Melbourne must continue to seek to rebuild and earn public trust by demonstrating the good character, honesty and integrity that are necessary to remain a suitable casino operator. We put Crown on notice that this Commission will not hesitate to act if the privilege of holding the casino licence is again abused.”