Crown Melbourne fined $20 million for breaching tax obligations

Crown Melbourne fined $20 million for breaching tax obligations

Photo: Crown Melbourne.

The casino has been walloped with another fine by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) for failing to claim tax deductions.

Crown Melbourne has been fined $20 million today by the VGCCC for failing to pay the proper amounts of casino tax over an extended period of time.

The Royal Commission into the casino found that Crown improperly claimed tax deductions by including the costs of certain promotional activities as amounts paid out as winnings and deliberately concealed the nature of these deductions.

The true nature of these deductions was only revealed when the Royal Commission noticed a document setting out the quantum of unpaid casino tax among voluminous documents that Crown disclosed to the Royal Commission for other purposes.

Once its conduct was brought to light by the Royal Commission, Crown accepted it had been wrong to claim these tax deductions and has since paid approximately $61.5 million to the state of Victoria, comprising unpaid casino tax of about $37.4 million and penalty interest of approximately $24.1 million, on top of the most recent $20 million fine.

“Crown and other gaming licensees have important obligations to pay gaming taxes to the state. Not only did Crown breach its obligations by claiming tax deductions to which it was not entitled, Crown also made significant efforts at concealment,” VGCCC chairperson Fran Thorn says.

"The VGCCC will not tolerate this behaviour. We expect licensees to comply with their tax obligations and to be transparent in their dealings with us.

“We have today imposed a significant fine of $20 million on Crown to send a clear message that this type of conduct will be met with strong disciplinary action.

“This fine also sends an important message to other gambling operators about the importance of complying with their obligations to pay gambling taxes and the need for frank and open dealings with the regulator.”

This is the fourth time the VGCCC has used its stronger enforcement powers to take disciplinary action against Crown for conduct uncovered by the Royal Commission. Since receiving these powers, the VGCCC has imposed fines on Crown totalling $250 million.

Last year, the VGCCC slapped Crown with an $80 million penalty for its role in facilitating high rollers at its casino to evade anti-money laundering rules and China’s currency controls between 2012 and 2016.

The disciplinary action was taken following findings from the Royal Commission that the casino allowed patrons to move almost $164 million out of China by linking payments from China Union Pay (CUP) credit and debit cards to Crown Melbourne’s Southbank hotel reception.

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