Crown Melbourne has accepted an AUS$20m fine from the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission for breaching casino tax obligations.
The Victorian Royal Commission found that Crown “improperly claimed tax deductions by including the costs of certain promotional activities as amounts paid out as winnings”.
The commission also noted that Crown “deliberately concealed” the deductions from the VGCCC’s predecessor, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.
The deductions were only discovered by the Royal Commission when a “document setting out the quantum of unpaid casino tax” was found among “voluminous documents that Crown disclosed to the Royal Commission for other purposes”.
After the commission contacted Crown about the conduct, the casino accepted it was in the wrong and has since paid approximately $61.5m to the State of Victoria – $37.4m in unpaid casino tax with a penalty interest of $24.1m.
As a result, the VGCCC has also imposed a fine of $20m on Crown to send “a clear message” to the rest of the casino industry.
Since receiving stronger enforcement powers, the VGCCC has imposed four fines totalling $250m on Crown for conduct found by the Royal Commission.
VGCCC Chair Fran Thorn said: “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.
“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 $20m 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.”
Commenting on the fine, Crown Melbourne CEO, Mike Volkert, stated that the casino accepts the outcome from the VGCCC and they’re focused on building stronger relationships with regulators and stakeholders.
“Crown Melbourne accepts the outcome from the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission which was identified within the Victorian Royal Commission,” Volkert said.
“These historical breaches, decisions and actions have no place at Crown, and under new ownership and leadership, we are committed to an open, constructive, and transparent relationship with our regulators and stakeholders, as well as improving internal controls and our regulatory reporting requirements.
“Our Future Crown program is driving whole-of-company reform and we are focused on building a Crown that exceeds the expectations of our stakeholders and the community.
“This practice ceased in 2021 and Crown has since made the required payments to meet its casino tax obligations.”