Crown Resorts Boss Facing Investigation that May Impact License

Posted on: December 13, 2023, 05:07h. 

Last updated on: December 13, 2023, 11:45h.

Ciarán Carruthers, the CEO of Crown Resorts, is facing an internal investigation initiated by the company he’s supposed to be cleaning up. The investigation follows allegations that he intervened to permit certain patrons, previously ejected by security, back into the Crown Melbourne casino.

The exterior of the Crown Melbourne casino in Australia
The exterior of the Crown Melbourne casino in Australia. The casino operator’s CEO may have used his positional power to sidestep policy. (Image: Crown Resorts)

The Australian Financial Review reports the investigation centers on recent incidents involving Carruthers’ allegedly overriding security procedures. The allegations come from a whistleblower, although there’s currently no concrete evidence to substantiate the claims.

The report couldn’t have come at a worse time for Crown, which is already on probation while trying to show gaming regulators that it is complying with all regulations. An update on its future will be released this month.

What’s Going On

The Blackstone-owned Crown confirmed Wednesday that it has brought in an external law firm to conduct the review. Specific details about the nature of the matters under investigation weren’t disclosed.

The review, which Crown’s board ordered, apparently stems from two separate issues. In an incident last month, Carruthers allegedly intervened to admit a patron who had been banned for a year because of bringing a minor onto the casino floor.

Another purported incident involves Carruthers, who took over Crown a year ago, allowing a visibly intoxicated patron to remain on the premises despite prior instructions to leave. Security officers had removed the unidentified person for his inebriated state before Carruthers allegedly allowed him to return.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) could investigate Carruthers, as well. Crown informed the gaming regulator of the ongoing review. A spokesperson for the VGCCC stated that the regulatory body is actively looking into the matter, but wouldn’t provide any more details.

What Happens Next

This development adds to a series of challenges for Crown, as the company awaits reviews into its casino operations in Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth. Special Manager Stephen O’Bryan is set to submit his final report to the regulator next year, marking the conclusion of his two-year term expiring at the end of this year.

Crown was one of the first Australian casino operators to come under fire for participation in money-laundering schemes. It also violated other financial and gaming regulations across the country, leading to the determination that it was unsuitable to hold a casino license in Victoria.

O’Bryan is the special manager appointed by the Victorian government to oversee Crown Melbourne following the damning findings of the royal commission. Subsequently, the regulator will determine whether Crown should retain its casino license.

Similar processes are concurrently underway in Sydney and Perth. The regulators in those states could make decisions later next year regarding Crown’s licenses as well. Crown has already paid more than AU$700 million (US$458.64 million) in fines and could face additional levies for tax evasion and other infractions.