(PRESS RELEASE) -- The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission is investigating undocumented practices at Crown Melbourne
Casino, after its decision to fine the operator $30 million over its bank check practice.
The Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and License found that Crown allowed patrons to gamble at the Melbourne casino by depositing bank checks made out to themselves, and not to Crown, even before the check had cleared (the bank check practice).
The Casino Control Act 1991 (Vic) prohibits the use of checks at the casino except in limited circumstances. This prohibition is designed to prevent the use of cheques to extend credit to gamblers or money laundering.
The Commission has decided to take disciplinary action and impose a fine on Crown in the amount of $30 million over the bank check practice. This was a serious contravention because it was undocumented, long-running and subverted the important controls on the use of checks at the casino.
The VGCCC was also concerned by the Royal Commission’s findings that Crown likely also accepted blank checks in exchange for gambling chips. At the Royal Commission, it was suggested that this practice involved Crown writing the amount of the debt a patron incurred on the blank check after the patron had finished gambling.
If this practice occurred, it would be a further serious contravention of the Act. However, following careful and detailed consideration, the VGCCC has decided there is insufficient evidence to establish that Crown engaged in this practice. Nevertheless, the VGCCC will issue directions to Crown to:
- Ban the bank and blank cheque practices at the Melbourne casino
- Require a review of Crown’s current policies and procedures on accepting bank cheques
- Investigate undocumented practices at the Melbourne casino.
“This is the second time we’ve taken action on undocumented practices at the casino, and we will investigate further to ensure there are no more,” said Chairperson Fran Thorn. “To be clear, we will not allow the casino to conceal its practices to avoid scrutiny. Practices like accepting bank checks expose Crown to the risk of money laundering, put patrons at risk of gambling harm, and compromise our ability to ensure the casino runs with integrity, safety and fairness.”
This is the third time the VGCCC has used its stronger enforcement powers to take disciplinary action against Crown for conduct uncovered by the Royal Commission. In May 2022, the VGCCC fined Crown $80 million over its China Union Pay process and, in November 2022, issued Crown with a record fine totaling $120 for breaches of its responsible service of gambling obligations.