SYDNEY, AAP – The woes of casino operator Crown Resorts are set to continue, with two directors already out of the picture and more expected to fall on their swords.
It comes after the head of the NSW gaming regulator on Wednesday said the company – found in this week’s damning report to be unfit to run a Sydney casino – may have to “blow itself up” to save itself.
The report by independent Commissioner Patricia Bergin found Crown facilitated money laundering and failed to act when made aware of the issue.
It also put its staff in China in danger of being detained and dealt with junket operators it had been told were involved in organised crime.
NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority chair Philip Crawford said suggestions Crown may have to blow itself up in order to save itself were “pretty close to the mark”.
Mr Crawford said money laundering and organised crime were “pretty scary terms” for a regulator, indicating Crown would have to work hard to persuade him they were ready to run a casino in NSW.
The final decision on the licence rests with ILGA, which will hold talks with Crown and company chair Helen Coonan.
The negotiations will take time but ILGA wants to move quickly, Mr Crawford said. The regulator will consider Ms Bergin’s report at two upcoming board meetings this month, the first being on Friday.
Crown’s first active response to the report came on Wednesday when it announced directors Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston – both longstanding lieutenants of majority shareholder James Packer – had resigned.
A third director, John Poynton, is set to stay on the Crown board but will no longer formally be a nominee of Mr Packer’s company CPH.
Mr Johnston was singled out for criticism in the report and Ms Bergin recommended he “conclude his tour of duty as soon as possible”. Two other directors, Andrew Demetriou and CEO Ken Barton, were also criticised.
Crown said it would work with ILGA on the report’s findings.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Wednesday said she would wait for ILGA’s advice before formally responding to the report.
Ms Bergin suggested sweeping cultural change was needed, as well as specific measures like the removal of certain board directors, a thorough audit of Crown accounts for money laundering and measures to stop the sharing of confidential information with non-director Mr Packer.