Crown Resorts Under Scrutiny for Alleged Environmental Pollution

Posted on: September 16, 2022, 07:32h. 

Last updated on: September 16, 2022, 03:59h.

Crown Resorts already has its hands full as it defends itself against multiple inquiries and investigations. In addition to anti-money laundering and responsible gambling violations, it might soon find itself having to explain if it engaged in environmental pollution.

Garbage retrieved from the Yarra River in Victoria, Australia
Workers pull garbage from the Yarra River in Victoria, Australia. Some of the recovered items belong to Crown Resorts, which could lead to environmental fines. (Image: The Age/Wayne Taylor)

There’s currently a mammoth task to clean up the Yarra River in Victoria, Australia, according to the Media outlet The Age. Divers have spent the last few weeks pulling out debris and trash, taking up around 20,000 cubic meters (26,158 cubic yards) of junk.

So far, the Australasian Marine Associates (AMA) have recovered over 100 e-scooters, e-bikes, and shopping carts. But perhaps most puzzling is the dozens of chairs and tables belonging to the Crown that have also been unearthed. 

Dr. Adam Cohen, the managing director of the AMA, says he has difficulty understanding why there was so much Crown equipment. But there’s currently no evidence that the Crown is directly responsible for the dumping. It’s just as conceivable that during some outdoor event, rowdy gamblers or mischievous attention-seekers decided to have a little fun and tossed the items.

The river passes less than 100 feet away from the front of Crown Melbourne. So far, four commercial divers have concentrated on a specific area around rowing boat sheds in the river.

Dredging Up the Past

Financial penalties are possible if Victoria decides to investigate. Although it may be difficult to determine if the casino operator deliberately tossed the equipment into the river. Environment Protection Authority Victoria can issue a fine of AU$1,859 (US$1,241) for violations of up to 50 liters of garbage. Larger fines are also possible.

Crown is reportedly environmentally friendly. It has an entire department dedicated to reducing its environmental footprint by “pursuing sustainable energy, water procurement (sic), and waste practices in all of our operations.” It also insists it has a solid “anti-bribery and corruption policy.” But that hasn’t held up to scrutiny.

Hanna Kowalczyk, the acting district manager of Parks Victoria, said that the dredging effort removed 146 cubic meters (190.9 cubic yards) of garbage last year. This was 38 cubic meters less than a year earlier. It is also significantly less than the 355 cubic meters (464.3 cubic yards) from 2017.

Crown Continues C-Level Shakeup

The Age contacted Crown about the garbage, but it didn’t respond. This could be because its busy dedicating resources to restructuring its executive ranks.

Crown recently appointed long-time industry executive Ciarán Carruthers as its new boss. It now has another high-ranking official on the team, with Mark McWhinnie set to become the CEO of Crown Sydney. McWhinnie, like Carruthers, is a Macau transfer. The CEO group boss was previously a Wynn Macau executive, while Crown Sydney’s inbound leader was with Sands China.

He has held senior positions at The Venetian Macao and Sands Cotai Central, which became The Londoner last year. He was also previously the senior VP of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

If regulators sign off on the appointment, McWhinnie will replace Simon McGrath, who is leaving at the end of this month. Should everything fall into place, he will officially take the reins as of Oct. 4.