The Victoria Gaming and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) recently imposed a fine on Crown Resorts, a land-based casino operator for violating regulation related to the business’ “blank cheque” policy at its Melbourne casino.
Crown Resorts has been fined AU$30m (US$20m) by the VGCCC for permitting patrons to bet using bank cheques made out to themselves, rather than the casino, even before the cheque had cleared.
By permitting this, Crown Resorts has directly violated the Victorian Casino Control Act 1991 which explicitly forbids the use of cheques at casinos, with only a few exceptions. The policy is in place to prevent casinos from providing credit to gamblers and to serve as a safeguard against money laundering practices.
The hefty penalty imposed on Crown Resorts is due to the fact that the casino’s practice of allowing patrons to deposit personal cheques was not only undocumented but also a long-standing one that undermined essential controls. This information has prompted the VGCCC to look further into any other undocumented procedures at Crown that may be in breach of regulations.
This Isn’t The Only Penalty Issued To Crown – VGCCC Chairperson
It’s not looking too good for this operator, particularly because this is not the only penalty it has been issued in recent times. Less than a year ago it was slapped with a staggering AU$80m fine over CUP credit and debit card payments. Perhaps those who like a night on the town might want to change resorts – or better yet, play online pokies at home, if changing venues is not something they fancy.
VGCCC Chairperson Fran Thorn has highlighted that practices like the acceptance of blank cheques by Crown Resorts expose the company to the risk of money-laundering practices and expose patrons to the possibility of gambling-related harm. Additionally, these actions have compromised the VGCCC’s ability to ensure that the casino operates “with integrity, safety, and fairness”.
Findings Of The State’s Royal Commission Raise Concern
The VGCCC’s enforcement action against Crown Resorts was prompted by the Royal Commission’s findings after investigating the company’s Crown Melbourne property. During the proceedings, Commissioner Ray Finkelstein deemed the company “unsuitable” to hold a casino license, although he didn’t immediately cancel it.
The VGCCC expressed concern about the Commission’s findings that Crown Resorts may have accepted blank cheques in exchange for chips. Finkelstein’s report also suggested that Crown Resorts used to fill in the amount of debt incurred by the individual on the cheque after their gambling session would have ended.
This is the third time that the Commission has imposed a financial penalty on Crown Resorts due to conduct uncovered by the Royal Commission.
In May 2022, the operator was fined $80m for breaches related to its China Union Pay processes, and in November of the same year, it was fined $120m for failure to follow its responsible gaming obligations.
The Way Forward
Following the imposition of the penalty, the Commission has instructed Crown Resorts to prohibit the use of blank cheques at its Melbourne casino and to review its current policies and practices for accepting such cheques.
A spokesperson for Crown Resorts stated that the company accepts the outcome of the VGCCC’s decision and has done a number improvements to minimize and prevent risk across its business. Now that the Future Crown program has new ownership and leadership, a whole reform has been initiated in order to enhance the company’s culture and exceed stakeholder and community expectations.
Crown Resorts’ spokesperson further added that they intend to abide by the directions that have been issued by the VGCCC and that they shall work in collaboration with the commission and the Government to tackle any other issues raised by the Victorian Royal Commission.Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn