Crown Melbourne’s culture has led to repeated regulatory failings and it’s not doing enough towards responsible gambling but the industry watchdog has deemed the casino a suitable licence holder.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation released its 209-page sixth review of the casino on Friday, examining five years from mid-2013 to mid-2018.
It found “failures of governance and risk management, contributing to compliance slippages”.
“Three disciplinary actions taken in the review period raise questions as to how and why Crown’s culture and practices allowed them to occur,” the report reads.
Those breaches include failings over junket documentation and machine non-compliance but the regulator found staff “did not set out to deliberately contravene” the rules.
“However in these instances their collective conduct failed to demonstrate a culture conducive to compliance by failing to understand the regulatory structure and obligations.”
The VCGLR is still doing its investigation into the detention of 19 Crown staff in China in October 2016, delayed because of the time it is taking Crown to get documents.
The regulator was also unconvinced Crown was doing enough for responsible gambling by not appropriately considering gaming as a risk to its licence and providing too-low support staff levels.
There are currently seven full-time responsible gambling liaison officers, with one on duty at all times and a second only on “some days” between 10am and 10pm or 7am and 7pm.
The casino is overly-reliant on the self-reporting of gamblers for help, according to the report.
There were 68 unattended children at the casino in 2017 and during the reporting period, 2015 recorded the highest number at 99.
The children were found in hotel rooms, public spaces and outside gambling areas.
While it made 20 recommendations to improve governance and compliance, the regulator did find “Crown remains suitable to hold the casino licence”, Gaming Minister Marlene Kairouz said.
She said she expected Crown to implement all 20 recommendations before the next review.
Crown Melbourne chairman John Alexander wrote to the VCGLR saying it accepted all recommendations.
The operator said it had already taken action on eight of them including looking to employ five more responsible gambling staff, creating a new regulation compliance framework and reviewing governance systems.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Tim Costello believes stronger action needs to be taken focusing on specific actions or changes to licence conditions rather than reviews.