McGowan Government reforms
A year ago, the Perth Casino Royal Commission was established to find out whether Crown Perth is suitable to continue holding a gaming licence in accordance with the certain Terms of Reference.
This happened because of a series of media reports that accused Crown Resort Ltd of
- violating gambling laws and
- entering into commercial relationships with Junket operators.
Some investigations were initiated by the Victorian government, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), and The New South Wales Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority in 2020.
The Outcome of The Investigations
Due to these investigations Crown Resort
- Crown was recognized an unsuitable person to hold a casino licence at Barangaroo in February 2021.
- was fined A$1 million by Victoria's gambling regulator for its junket operations in April 2021. Ross Kennedy, VCGLR Chairman, said, “That fine reflects the seriousness of this matter and the fact that Crown’s failure to implement a robust process occurred over an extended period.”
- they lost a gaming licence for its $2.2 billion Barangaroo casino in February 2022.
New Royal Commission Recommendations
This March, Perth Casino Royal Commission published the final report stated that “Crown and its subsidiaries are not presently suitable to hold a gaming licence, or to be concerned in or associated with the organisation and conduct of the Perth Casino.”
The report contains 59 recommendations that are now being considered in detail by McGowan Government according to Tony Buti, WA Racing and Gaming Minister.
What is Crown blamed for?
The commission highlighted a number of issues that make Crown unsuitable to hold a gaming licence. They include
- the anachronistic regulatory framework;
- failing to assess the money laundering risks in a proper way;
- absence of appropriate risk-based systems;
- absence of special tracking programs to monitor transactions and identify suspicious activity;
- failing to establish appropriate programs to carry out extra checks on higher risk players;
The report said, “We have focused on the extant risk of gambling-related harm. Our inquiries have revealed that Perth Casino’s efforts to ensure that risk was kept to a minimum, have fallen well short of what might reasonably be expected.”
However, the commission noted that “a lot had changed, mainly for the better, even since the Victorian inquiry reported in October 2021.”
Among the Royal commission recommendations there are:
- overhauling the framework, management and structure of the casino, and Crown Resorts
- applying play period time limits
- introducing certain conditions of applying for Pearl Room membership
- changing the Casino Control Act 1984
- reviewing the penalties for regulatory offences
- introducing certain requirements to the casino staff and the Gaming and Wagering Commission (GWC).
The McGowan Government Reply
The McGowan Government welcomes the final report and is ready to improve their activity and start carrying out all recommendations given. They say, "The McGowan Government is now committed to bringing about wide-reaching reforms to ensure we have a governance framework that ensures the casino is held to account.” The government initially is about to fulfill the following:
- to amend to gaming legislation in order to allow the Racing and Gaming Minister and the GWC to carry out remediation procedures within the casino;
- to appoint new members to the GWC;
- to start the process to appoint an independent observer to oversee remediation work at WA's casino;
- to improve the effectiveness of Governmental authorities responsible for Sport and Cultural Industries and the Gaming and Wagering Commission;
- to investigate additional regulation of poker machines at the casino;
- to modernize the Casino Control Act 1984.
Further steps will be undertaken as soon as the Government continue reviewing the Royal Commission recommendations.
Dr Buti said, "I want to thank the commissioners for their meticulous work in compiling the Perth Casino Royal Commission.”
He also noted the government would focus on remediation and the casino brought important social and economic advantages to Western Australia, including its taxation revenue paid to the WA Government, its employment of thousands of people and its attraction to tourists.
WA Government is going to do their best to improve situation with gambling on their territory. They will review the Casino Control Act, improve monitoring systems, appoint new staff. Crown Resort has already done a lot to improve their services and is ready to follow all recommendations given.