PERTH, AAP – A royal commission into Crown Perth will examine whether Western Australia’s decades-old gambling legislation remains fit for purpose.
The inquiry officially opened on Monday with a brief hearing outlining the scope of evidence to be heard in coming months.
It is being led by three commissioners: former Supreme Court justices Neville Owen and Lindy Jenkins and former WA auditor-general Colin Murphy.
They are expected to deliver an interim report by June 30, and a final report with findings and recommendations by November 14.
Substantive public hearings are likely to begin in May.
A bombshell NSW report into the company’s operations earlier this year found Crown was not suitable to hold the licence for a Sydney casino because it had facilitated money laundering through bank accounts held by subsidiaries.
Mr Owen said the WA inquiry would be informed by the NSW Bergin probe as well as a royal commission being undertaken in Victoria.
He said the commission would focus on two strands – the regulation of casinos in WA and the suitability of Crown Perth to hold a casino licence.
“So far as we are aware, this is the first time since the grant of the casino licence in 1988 that there has been an inquiry into these issues and given social changes in over 30 years, there is an increased importance to an inquiry of this kind,” he said.
“We will be concerned with grave matters of private and public interest and we enter into this investigation with that firmly in mind.”
The inquiry will not consider the morality of gambling but is likely to touch upon Crown’s corporate social responsibility, Mr Owen said.
Hearings are expected to be held in public although some evidence may need to be heard privately.
Mr Owen acknowledged there would be stakeholders affected by inquiries in at least three different states.
“We believe that the public interest will best be served by collaboration between the various inquiries, so far as that is possible and is consistent with individual responsibilities,” he said.
WA’s Gaming and Wagering Commission has already directed Crown Perth to no longer hold junkets and to obtain the commission’s approval to establish gaming bank accounts in a bid to prevent any further possible wrongdoing.