Crown Melbourne has been fined US$30 million (US$20 million) by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) for engaging in a "bank cheque practise" in which patrons were allowed to gamble by depositing bank cheques made out to themselves rather than Crown, even before the cheque had cleared.
This latest charge, resulting from the findings of Victoria's Royal Commission into the Melbourne casino operator, brings Crown Melbourne's total fine in the last year to AU$230 million (US$152 million). The corporation was earlier fined AU$80 million (US$51 million) in May 2022 for illegally using China Union Pay cards for gambling transactions, and another AU$120 million (US$77 million) in November for failing to meet its Responsible Service of Gambling duties.
The VGCCC stated in a statement that the Casino Control Act 1991 (Vic) prohibits the usage of cheques at casinos, save in limited circumstances, to prevent cheques from being used to offer credit to gamblers or for money laundering.
The decision to punish the casino AU$30 million was made because the practise was viewed as a severe violation because it was unrecorded, long-running, and undermined essential restrictions on the use of cheques at the casino.
The VGCCC also expressed worry over the Royal Commission's conclusions that Crown likely took blank checks in exchange for casino chips. It was suspected that Crown was writing the amount of a patron's debt on the blank cheque after the patron had stopped gambling, which would be a significant violation of the Casino Control Act.
The VGCCC, on the other hand, stated that there is insufficient information to determine whether or not Crown engaged in this practise. Nonetheless, the VGCCC will direct Crown to prohibit the use of bank and blank cheques at the Melbourne casino, as well as conduct a review of Crown's current policies and processes for taking bank cheques and investigate undocumented practises at the Melbourne casino.
"This is the second time we've taken action on undocumented practises at the casino, and we will investigate further to ensure there are no more," stated Fran Thorn, Chairperson of the VGCCC.
"To be clear, we will not tolerate the casino concealing its practises in order to avoid scrutiny." Accepting bank cheques puts Crown at risk of money laundering, puts patrons at risk of gambling damage, and jeopardises our capacity to administer the casino with honesty, safety, and fairness."
A Crown Resorts representative responded, saying the business "accepts the outcome of the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission."
“These practices have ceased, and we have implemented significant improvements to reduce and prevent risk across our business,” the spokesperson explained. “Under new ownership and leadership, our Future Crown program is driving whole-of-company reform as we continue to uplift our culture and build a Crown that exceeds the expectations of our stakeholders and the community.
“We will comply with the directions issued and work constructively with the VGCCC and the Government to address this and other issues raised as part of the Victorian Royal Commission.”
By fLEXI tEAM