VGCCC Allows Crown to Keep Melbourne Casino License Amid Strong Warnings

  • VGCCC Chair Fran Thorn stated Crown Melbourne’s failures were a “thing of the past”
  • Thorn said it was in the public interest for reformed Crown to keep its casino license
  • Report from the special manager overseeing Melbourne’s reform will be made public
Crown Melbourne
The VGCCC has declared Crown suitable to retain its Melbourne casino license. [Image:]

Ruling favors Crown

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

VGCCC gave Crown Melbourne two years to reform

The welcome news comes after the VGCCC gave Crown Melbourne two years to reform.

Former VGCCC Executive Commissioner and CEO Peter Cohen took to X Tuesday to share the regulator’s decision the casino was “clearly suitable” to retain its license:

A state royal commission found the casino’s operations “illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative” in 2021 for a litany of failures including money laundering. Announcing the regulatory body’s decision Tuesday, VGCCC Chair Fran Thorn stated Crown Melbourne’s systemic failures were a “thing of the past”.

While acknowledging Crown Melbourne’s “significant” two-year rehabilitation Thorn, however, issued a strong warning against repeat offences.

The Chair said despite the Blackstone-owned casino’s return to respectability, “we will act” if it messes up again.

Second chance

According to The Guardian, Crown Melbourne’s Chief Executive Officer Mike Volkert dubbed the VGCCC’s decision “one of the most significant milestones in Crown Melbourne’s 30-year history”.

Volkert’s enthusiasm nevertheless comes with the close scrutiny of the VGCCC, with Thorn stating in Tuesday’s press conference that the regulatory body was considering other “matters” related to Crown.

“lied, obfuscated, used legal power to bully the commission”

If her earlier warning wasn’t enough, Thorn added if the firm “was stupid enough” to backslide into the previous incarnation that “lied, obfuscated, used legal power to bully the commission”, then it would be in serious trouble with the law.

Thorn, however, tempered this by stating it was in the public interest “a very different Crown” got to retain Victoria’s only license to run a Melbourne casino.

The decision is a major reprieve for Crown after being hit with a series of fines by the VGCCC totaling $250m ($163.6m). This is on top of the $450m ($295m) fine Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth agreed to pay Australia’s financial watchdog Austrac in May 2023 for anti-money laundering and terrorism financing law violations.

While the CEO of Crown Melbourne Xavier Walsh and Crown Resorts Chair Helen Coonan quit their jobs amid the scandals, authorities have brought no criminal charges against anyone.

Three Crown Perth employees, however, lost their jobs last month following a police raid on an illegal gambling den. Police netted over AU$128,000 ($86,131) from the April 2023 bust.

The VGCCC does not have the power to bring charges against employees once they have left an organization.

Body to share report

Thorn added that a report from the special manager appointed to oversee Crown Melbourne’s reform over the past two years would be made public.

never allowed to happen again”

The Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan meanwhile on Tuesday stated her government would study the report on Crown Melbourne and consider its findings. She added:

“We will look at that work to ensure that the illegal behavior that we saw in the past is never allowed to happen again.”

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