Crown Melbourne casino fined $120m for breaching gambling laws
Crown fined $120m: Regulator says casino’s conduct can’t be forgotten or tolerated
Crown Resorts will pay a record $120 million in fines for failing to encourage responsible gambling at its Melbourne casino, in particular for letting customers gamble for more than 24 hours straight.
The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission announced the record fine on Monday, saying it sent a powerful message that misconduct would not be tolerated.
The fine was for two separate issues and based on the findings of a royal commission into Crown’s suitability to hold a casino. It means the gaming giant has now been slugged $200 million in fines since the regulator had its enforcement powers strengthened.
The commission’s chairwoman, Fran Thorn, said: “These were not isolated breaches. They were part of a pattern of extensive, sustained and systemic failures by Crown that spanned roughly 12 years.”
Thorn noted the casino promoted itself as having the best approach to problem gambling.
“But this is far from the truth,” she said.
It is the first time the commission has hit Crown with the maximum fine of $100 million.
“The stories of financial loss or suicide attempts or forced sex work and other hardships experienced by individuals, their families, and communities; the people who gambled for two to three days straight with no one stopping them; the people who stole to keep gambling and the people who lost their families because of their addiction,” Thorn said.
“Little, if anything, was done to stop people from gambling for long periods of time. These are real stories of real harm.
“We cannot forget, and we cannot tolerate [that behaviour]. This fine of $100 million is to deter [repeat behaviour] and protect [the community].”
The $100 million fine was issued because of Crown’s failure to stop people from gambling for more than 24 hours straight, she explained.
An additional $20 million fine was imposed because the casino failed to stop patrons from using plastic picks to simulate “automatic play” when gambling on certain electronic gaming machines or pokies.
The small plastic items could be used to jam or lodge into buttons, so patrons could keep playing, and the casino even provided branded picks to some customers, Thorn said.
“The  royal commission [into the casino operator and licence] found Crown did not change its ways,” she said.
“While patrons were discouraged, they were not stopped from using other items, including credit cards to lodge into the button on the poker machine to play multiple machines. Once again, Crown’s behaviour contradicted its claims to be a world leader in responsible gambling practise.”
Crown Resorts said it was “genuinely remorseful for the failings of the past,” in a statement issued on Monday afternoon and credited its new leadership team for “driving a whole-of-company transformation program”.
“While considerable work has been undertaken as part of the reform and remediation program, Crown is the first to acknowledge there is a lot more to be done,” it said.
Crown’s investment in responsible gaming has doubled over the past 18 months.
Thorn said the gaming giant had accepted the disciplinary action and the need to continue reforming its operations.
The chairwoman was asked at Monday’s media conference whether Crown was trustworthy.
“Crown is working very hard to be trustworthy and to meet the concept of an acceptable associate,” Thorn said.
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