Crown Melbourne’s punters to face the toughest rules of any casino in Australia

Crown Melbourne’s punters to face the toughest rules of any casino in Australia

The Victorian Government has introduced some of the toughest rules for an Australian casino operator as part of a crackdown on money laundering activities at Crown Melbourne that were uncovered last year by a royal commission.

Crown Melbourne must introduce a cash transaction limit of $1,000 a day on all punters to make it easier for authorities to track the money trail of any illegal activities.

The move will be bolstered by plans to make it compulsory for gamblers to show identification to either gamble or receive winnings of more than $1,000, a measure heralded by the state government as an Australian first.

Problem gambling has also been tackled by the sweeping reforms to be introduced following the damning findings against Crown Resorts’ Melbourne casino by a royal commission which determined that the operator was not fit to hold a casino licence. Ultimately, Crown was permitted to keep its Victorian licence because of its large contribution to the local economy. 

New laws recommended by the royal commission to tackle problem gambling include setting compulsory limits on how much punters are prepared to lose on the pokies in any given session.

Among the measures already introduced by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) to crack down on money laundering are provisions that Crown Melbourne holds only a single bank account for patrons to deposit funds for gambling.

Crown Resorts, which was delisted from the ASX in June, is now controlled by US private equity group Blackstone.

The property is required to implement the gambling limits for pokies by the end of this year, while other measures that require new technology to be enforced must be in place by December 2025. The government says it will work with Crown and the VGCCC to implement the remaining reforms earlier than this date.

Crown Melbourne’s management will also be firmly under the microscope as a result of the sweeping changes. The casino’s board and senior management are required to be independent and accountable to the casino operator instead of a parent or holding company. The move is aimed at ensuring accountability to the casino framework rather than the corporation’s ownership structure.

This measure has been introduced in response to the control that the royal commission found was exerted on the Crown Resort’s board by former major shareholder James Packer.

Any party that seeks to control more than 5 per cent of the casino operator or its holding company will now need to be approved by the VGCCC.

This legislation is the next step in our national-leading reforms to ensure the disgraceful conduct uncovered by the royal commission will never happen again in Melbourne,” says Melissa Horne, the Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation.

“Some of the strongest protections in the world will now be in place at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, including mandatory pre-commitment. We’re getting on with holding Crown to account and implementing every one of the royal commission’s recommendations.”

In other reforms, Crown will now have topay for the cost of regulating its activities with the reintroduction of a supervision charge. A separate measure will also see smoking banned in high roller rooms in line with most Australian states.

While last year’s Victorian royal commission found Crown Melbourne unsuitable to hold a casino licence, the company remains on notice to clean up its act.

“If the casino operator does not demonstrate that it is suitable to hold the licence, its licence will be automatically cancelled in 2024,” a statement from Horne’s office says.

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