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Big win for Melbourne’s Crown casino

Austrac - Crown
Crown casino in Melbourne will be allowed to keep its gaming licence. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

Gaming giant Crown Resorts will be allowed to continue operating its Melbourne casino after the Victorian gambling regulator deemed Crown was suitable to retain its gaming licence.

Crown’s suitability to hold the licence had been under review following findings of a 2021 Victorian royal commission that revealed the company facilitated money laundering and permitted people with links to organised crime syndicates to gamble at its premises.

The royal commission found that Crown was “unsuitable” to hold its gaming licence after it engaged in “illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative” conduct.

Austrac - Crown
Crown Resorts will be allowed to continue operating its Melbourne casino. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

While Victoria’s Gambling and Casino Control Commissioner Fran Thorn said the gambling company had previously breached governance rules, had an absence of appropriate risk management and demonstrated a culture of prioritising profits ahead of safety, she said the state watchdog would permit Crown to operate again.

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“The commission today announced that it is clearly satisfied that Crown Melbourne is suitable to operate the Melbourne casino and that it is in the public interest for the licence to remain in force,” Ms Thorn told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday.

“In return for an exclusive licence, Victorians have the right to know Crown will never again prioritise profits over public safety.

“For the past two years, Crown has probably been the most scrutinised casino in the world.”

But Ms Thorn warned that the regulator would not hesitate to take action if Crown again committed further breaches.

“The significant turnaround by Crown Melbourne does not mean that Crown Melbourne will never slip up again. And when this happens, we will act and we expect Crown Melbourne to act,” she said.

“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.

CROWN MELBOURNE
Crown is on notice despite the casino retaining its licence. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

“We put Crown on notice that this commission will not hesitate to act if the privilege of holding the casino licence is again abused.

“We are determined Crown is not and will never be too big to fail.”

Following the Victorian probe, royal commissioner Ray Finkelstein recommended Crown be given two years to reform itself under a government-appointed “special manager”. He also ordered former major shareholder James Packer to sell down his 37 per cent stake in the company to less than 5 per cent by September 2024.

A separate royal commission into the operations at Crown’s Perth casino found it was unfit to hold a gaming licence in Western Australia, while a NSW inquiry found that Crown facilitated money laundering through its Sydney casino.