Crown Resorts Fined in Victoria Over Relationship with “Unsuitable” Junket Operator

Posted on: December 24, 2021, 09:49h. 

Last updated on: December 24, 2021, 10:02h.

Crown Resorts is once again being forced to break out its wallet in Australia to cover a fine. The casino operator will need to pay the Victorian gaming regulator AU$1 million (US$720,700) for breaking junket rules.

Catherine Myers
Catherine Myers, the CEO of the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation. She has been busy trying to straighten out Crown Resorts, and just handed it a new fine. (Image: The Mandarin)

Crown Resorts has been under fire for the past couple of years across Australia. Its troubles don’t seem to end, with ongoing investigations still uncovering egregious missteps. It has already been hit in New South Wales and Victoria for severe failings tied to anti-money-laundering (AML) procedures and other incidents. A new violation is forcing it to once again pay to cover its apparently uncoordinated operational management.

The gaming regulator in Victoria has hit Crown with a fine of $1 million, per a report by Reuters. This comes after the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation determined that the company had worked with an “unsuitable” junket operator.

It wasn’t just that Crown continued contact with the unnamed junket, which had already been flagged by regulators. The operator had been ordered to stay away, but disregarded the regulator’s demand.

The fine could have been worse. At the time of the infraction, Victoria had a $1-million cap on penalties. That was raised to $100 million (US$7.2 million) this month through a legislative initiative. That initiative was, most likely, the result of Crown’s troubling history.

Crown Resorts had its gaming license suspended in New South Wales and was given probation in Victoria. An investigation into the company in Western Australia has wrapped up, but the results won’t be made available for another few months.

Junkets Fall Out of Favor

Crown announced a year ago that it would no longer work with junkets. That was, in part, a response to several issues that had been raised over questionable relationships between casinos and the VIP-leading groups. That move came before Victoria implemented regulations to prohibit junkets.

Crown’s latest penalties were related to activity that took place five to six years ago. However, the gaming regulator didn’t provide additional details.

Junkets were once a strong driver of revenue for casinos. But a changing attitude toward gambling is altering the environment. SkyCity in New Zealand stopped dealing with them earlier this year, as Australia began to increase its scrutiny. At about the same time, Wynn Resorts said that Wynn Macau would likely follow the same path.

Wynn followed through on that announcement this month as Macau’s junket segment began to fall apart. It and other gaming operators stated that they would be cutting ties with their junket partners. It was also influenced by Macau’s decision to crack down on the segment as well.

While the junkets could find a way back by targeting other markets, the business model will likely never be the same. The VIP segment was once a huge contributor to casinos’ revenue in certain regions. But those days have passed.