Crown Resorts Faces New Inquiry, Interim Chair Says Company Will Gain Sydney License

Posted on: February 22, 2021, 11:16h. 

Last updated on: February 24, 2021, 02:48h.

Crown Resorts is facing yet another inquiry by a government in Australia.

Crown Resorts Melbourne Sydney Perth casino
A table game at Crown Melbourne is seen here. The future of the large casino resort is in jeopardy following officials in Victoria saying they’re opening a probe to determine if Crown has ties to illicit crime and has failed to impede money laundering. (Image: The Sydney Morning Herald)

Officials in Victoria say they will probe the company to determine whether Crown Resorts is suitable to conduct gaming business in the state. The decision comes after officials in New South Wales (NSW) concluded that the casino operator has repeatedly failed to combat money laundering at its casinos in Melbourne and Perth.

Crown Melbourne is Crown Resorts’ largest casino holding. The gaming and resort complex is located in Southbank, Victoria. The property opened in its current location in 1997.

“Establishing a royal commission will ensure the most appropriate access to information regarding Crown Melbourne’s suitability to hold the casino license, given the commission’s powers to compel witnesses and documentation,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement.

Crown Resorts responded to the probe.

“Victorians should be assured we recognize the responsibility placed on us by the community, governments, and regulators, and we will fully cooperate with the Royal Commission,” said Crown Resorts Executive Chair Helen Coonan.

Crown Reign Under Siege

Earlier this month, Crown Resorts was found unsuitable to hold a gaming license in NSW. It was a devastating result of a more than a year-long inquiry in the state to determine whether allegations of money laundering inside its casinos, as well as links to criminal networks, were true.

Crown officials admitted there have been shortcomings in preventing its casinos from being used to launder money.

The NSW determination means Crown cannot open its casino inside its $1.7 billion integrated casino resort in Sydney. The property is presently operating as a luxury hotel and residential complex. It was supposed to include a VIP gaming space, but the high roller tables and slot machines won’t commence operations anytime soon.

Following the suitability decision in NSW, the Western Australian state government announced its plans to conduct its own inquiry. Crown Resorts owns and operates Crown Perth in the Western Australian capital.

Corporate Overhaul

Numerous Crown officials have departed the organization in wake of the NSW inquiry. Most notably is Ken Barton, Crown’s former CEO, who resigned last week.

Helen Coonan assumed the role as interim executive chair of the Crown board with Barton’s departure. She said last week that she expects Crown’s corporate leadership changes and its overhauled business model will result in the company one day being afforded a casino license in Sydney.

“There are quite a few moving parts but the commission has recommended changes that are largely within Crown’s control, and many of the changes were already in train as part of the reform agenda, which Crown has been proactively implementing to strengthen its governance and compliance processes,” Coonan said on a call with investors.

Coonan added that Crown is working closely with the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority to implement necessary changes to reapply for a gaming license.