Victoria Premier Dan Andrews is introducing a further slate of “major reforms” to combat gambling related harm and address money laundering at Crown Melbourne.
The government has forwarded legislation to implement a further twelve recommendations from the royal commission to parliament.
These are intended to build on those measures that have already been implemented since the aforementioned investigation, including establishing the office of the Special Manager to oversee Crown’s operations.
Crown Resorts was able retain its Melbourne casino licence despite an investigation deeming the group to be “unsuitable” on the basis that it engaged in “illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative” conduct.
The amendments seek to implement an array of recommendations emanating from the reports, including expanding the powers of the regulator, introducing new obligations for a casino operator, and banning junkets.
The package of harm minimisation and crime prevention reforms aim to be a “world first” as well as “the strongest measures in any casino in Australia” in a bid to ensure that behaviour previously uncovered “can never happen again”.
One aspect of these new laws, deemed “an Australian first,” permits patrons to set limits on how much they intend to spend and track the time and money they are spending via mandatory pre-commitment on all electronic gaming machines at the casino.
The use of cash at the gaming establishment will be limited to $1000 per 24 hours, with customers required to utilise casino-issued cards and show ID to gamble or receive winnings of more than that amount.
To prevent the illegal transfer of funds through and within the casino, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission has previously directed the venue to hold only a single bank account for patrons to deposit funds.
Furthermore, a person or entity that wishes to own more than five per cent of the casino operator or its holding company will require the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission’s approval.
Among other reforms included in the Bill, Crown will be made to pay for the cost of regulating the casino with the reintroduction of a supervision charge that was previously abolished.
Smoking will also be banned in high roller rooms, aligning with the position in other jurisdictions including Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital-Territory. This is also expected to be implemented in Queensland and by Crown in New South Wales.
The mandatory pre-commitment requirements will need to be in place for the casino’s pokies by the end of next year. However, to allow for the development of technologies that do not currently exist, the full reforms must be implemented by no later than December 2025.
“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,” noted Melissa Horne, 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.”
The government reaffirms support for the remaining nine recommendations made by the Royal Commission and says that these will be implemented over the next 12 months through a combination of further legislation, directions, and administrative mechanisms.
Crown Melbourne has one chance only to reform its operations and return to suitability to hold the Melbourne casino licence. If the casino operator does not demonstrate that it is suitable to hold the licence it will be automatically cancelled in 2024.