Embattled casino giant Crown Resorts’ Melbourne operations will be scrutinised after allegations of money laundering, corporate governance stuff-ups and involvement with organised crime came to light at a long-running NSW inquiry.
The Victorian government has asked the state gambling regulator to bring forward Crown’s seventh casino review, after its last evaluation in 2018.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation will assess the suitability of Crown to hold the state’s sole casino licence as part of a review that is lawfully required at least every five years.
The early review was prompted by “concerning” revelations at the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry, the state government said.
“It would be my hope that some of the issues that have been raised can be accounted for and we can have confidence that … Crown Casino is run to the highest standards,” Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Thursday.
“We’re all entitled to that reassurance. But that’s not a matter for me, that’s a matter for the independent regulator.”
Mr Andrews said his government determined on Wednesday it was the right time to move up the review, as Crown was withheld a gaming licence for its new Sydney complex.
Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam said an independent investigation into Crown’s licence was long overdue and called on the government to shut down its Southbank site until process was complete.
“Given the damning evidence coming out of the inquiry … Crown shouldn’t be allowed to retain its Victorian licence while this investigation takes place,” she said in a statement on Thursday.
A dedicated commissioner will be appointed to run the Victorian-based review and findings will be reported to Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister Melissa Horne sometime next year.
Mr Andrews said he didn’t want to prejudge Crown prior to the “frank and fearless process”, but pledged to take appropriate action based on its findings.
“It will be properly resourced,” he said.
“It will be the right person and they will get to the bottom of a question that many people are asking: ‘What’s going on down there?’.”
The NSW inquiry into Crown has heard evidence of money laundering, corporate governance errors and links to organised crime.
A temporary liquor licence was issued to the casino giant on Wednesday, allowing it to run a new hotel, restaurants and bars at its Barangaroo site.
But Crown Sydney’s centrepiece casino will remain unopened, with the ILGA withholding a gaming licence until the inquiry reports back in February 2020.
In an ASX release on Thursday, Crown acknowledged the Victorian regulator review as its share price dropped 0.3 per cent to $9.82 by 2pm after the news.