MELBOURNE, AAP – Binbin Du gambled at Crown Melbourne for at least eight hours every day, soon after his marriage broke down.
He plunged $300,000 into the Southbank casino during a two-month stretch from November 2019, sometimes clocking up more than 15 hours straight on the gaming floor.
But only once did a Crown staff member check on him.
“It was a shameful experience,” Mr Du told the inquiry into whether Crown can retain a licence for its Melbourne operations, in previously redacted evidence.
“I couldn’t see that I was seriously addicted.”
The law graduate, who grew up in China’s Jilin province before moving to Brisbane as a teenager in 2002, preferred to play baccarat.
He told Commissioner Ray Finkelstein QC, a former federal court judge, that this was the game of choice for most Chinese gamblers.
One Chinese man, Mr Du said, blew $2 million in about 30 minutes playing baccarat at Crown’s Mahogany Room – reserved for high-rollers – after the casino allowed him to bet $150,000 per hand, an increase of $50,000.
“I have so many acquaintances and friends (who’ve) ruined their lives, been affected or even ruined by gambling in Mahogany,” Mr Du said.
After losing his job in 2017, Mr Du started betting on sport to kill time and make some money.
But the losses piled up and his marriage broke down the following year. He then started using Crown Bet to gamble online from Brisbane, which meant he earned points that he could use at Crown Melbourne.
Mr Du, gambling with money he had from selling all three of his properties, then started playing at the Southbank casino from November 2019.
He kicked off at the blackjack table, betting $50 per hand, before a Crown employee lured him to the Mahogany Room with a promotional program that rewarded gamblers with cash rebates, as well as food and beverage credits.
Losing thousands per day, Mr Du then asked Crown for a few nights of free accommodation. He was told he wasn’t gambling enough for such a perk.
It took six weeks, Mr Du told the inquiry, for a member of Crown’s responsible gambling team to pull him up and talk to him about budgeting.
But Mr Du said by this point he was “seriously addicted” and no longer cared about budgeting.
He later complained to a Mahogany Room host about his spiralling losses, only to be told: “Gambling is like water – you can either drink it or don’t drink.”
“There was no staff or dealers or floor managers approaching the gamblers … they just let gamblers lose more and more and more,” Mr Du told the inquiry.
“There is a culture of corporate arrogance and indifference.”
Mr Du told the inquiry he believes nothing has changed.
“It is business as usual,” he said.
Another man, who cannot be named, said his sister took her own life after becoming addicted to gambling at Crown Melbourne and falling prey to payday lenders.
He blamed the inducements offered by the casino, as well as the fact no one checked on his sister, who would gamble up to four nights a week.
She slept in her car, he said, after selling her house to feed the addiction, as well as stealing from her own family, including her sister’s engagement ring.
“This wasn’t people going to a venue with friends and having drinks and having fun,” the man said.
“This is someone … almost night after night … looking very despondent on her own. I just feel like it’s toxic, it’s dangerous.
“Inducements can destroy a life.”
The royal commission was set up by the Andrews’ Labor government after a NSW inquiry found Crown unsuitable to operate its newly built casino in Sydney’s Barangaroo.
Public hearings continue on Thursday.