Crown Melbourne under further fire over bank & blank cheque practices

Crown Resorts Melbourne, Victoria
Image: TK Kurikawa/Shutterstock

A third set of disciplinary proceedings has been launched against Crown Melbourne by the Victorian gaming regulator over the property’s historical bank and blank practices.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission has issued Crown with a notice that compels the operator to provide information relating to findings uncovered during the royal commission investigation.

This 2021 probe, said the VGCCC, uncovered practices that breached the Casino Control Act regarding the prohibition of extending credit to patrons in connection with any gaming or betting.

This includes the exchange of a bank cheque for gambling chips valued at the face value of the cheque, as well as permitting patrons to exchange blank cheques made payable to Crown in exchange for chips used to gamble at its Melbourne facility.

Actions available to the regulator include imposing a fine of up to A$100m, making alterations to the company’s casino licence and issuing a letter of censure and directing Crown to take certain steps.

“The Casino Control Act establishes restrictions on Crown’s financial interactions with its patrons,” stated Fran Thorn, VGCCC Chair.

“These restrictions are vital because they protect patrons from gambling beyond their means and guard the Melbourne casino against criminal influence and exploitation.

“The Royal Commission found that Crown adopted practices involving the use of blank cheques and bank cheques that breached these important restrictions.”

Earlier this year, Crown was hit with a A$80m fine regarding the illegal transfer of funds from China, while a second round of disciplinary proceedings was launched in July in relation to its alleged responsible gambling failures. 

In October 2021, a royal commission enabled Crown to retain its Melbourne casino licence, despite deeming the group to be “unsuitable” on the basis that it engaged in “illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative” conduct.

In response, Victoria Premier Dan Andrews sanctioned a slate of “major reforms” to combat gambling related harm and address money laundering, including the appointment of a special manager to supervise the operations for a period of two years.

Crown Melbourne has one chance only to reform its operations and return to suitability to hold the Melbourne casino licence. If the operator does not demonstrate that it is suitable to hold the licence it will be automatically cancelled in 2024.