Crown Resorts Customer Gambled Unchecked for 34 Hours, Inquiry Hears

Posted on: June 2, 2021, 08:05h. 

Last updated on: June 2, 2021, 10:37h.

A gambler at Crown Resorts’ flagship Crown Melbourne was permitted to play for more than 34 hours-straight before staff intervened. So heard a licensing suitability inquiry in Melbourne, as attention focused on the company’s responsible gaming safeguards – or lack thereof.

Crown resorts
Crown Resorts, seen above, responsible gaming agents often failed to intervene when customers were gambling for 18 hours or more, according to one testimony. (Image: The Guardian)

The long gambling sting was in violation of Crown’s own gaming code of conduct, which requires staff to check on customers if they’re gambling for more than 12 hours. The inquiry, known as a royal commission, has been set up by the government of the state of Victoria to examine Crown Melbourne’s operations.

It followed a similar inquiry in New South Wales that found the company had facilitated money laundering for criminal gangs and built relationships with junket operators with links to triads. Those findings prompted NSW regulators to pull the company’s Sydney license.

Long-Distance Gamblers

At the hearing in Melbourne Wednesday, Crown’s head of responsible gaming, Sonja Bauer, said that gamblers who played using their loyalty cards can be monitored and are encouraged to breaks after 12 hours via an alert system. If they decline, they’re nudged again at 15 and 17 hours.

At 18 hours, they are usually barred from the gaming floor under Crown’s responsible gaming policy and forced to take a 24-hour break, Bauer said. However, casino management is permitted to “exercise discretion” to vary the break times from case to case.

Commission chair Ray Finkelstein noted that a Crown responsible gaming adviser, who gave evidence in private, said it was “normal” for staff not to intervene when players reached the 12- to 18-hour mark.

Meanwhile, Bauer admitted under questioning that it was possible for uncarded players to play for long periods without intervention.

She said, in these cases, staff was required to rely on general observations because these players’ gambling habits went untracked. But with workers typically working eight-hour shifts, it was difficult for them to know how long uncarded players had been playing.

Bauer said outgoing workers had an obligation to pass on their observations to incoming staff, but conceded this was not official Crown policy and no one checked whether the practice actually occurred.

Problem Gambling at Crown Melbourne 

Previously, the commission heard that there was just 12 staff employed to monitor responsible gaming at one of the world’s biggest casinos, with 64,000 visitors per day, pre-pandemic.

The commission was also told that gamblers who patronize Crown Melbourne are three times more likely to experience problem gambling than those who use other Victorian gaming facilities.

As a condition of its licensing, it is the Crown’s responsibility to minimizes gambling harms.