Crown Resorts Suitability Determination for Melbourne Casino Hours Away

Posted on: October 14, 2021, 07:10h. 

Last updated on: October 14, 2021, 09:48h.

Crown Resorts is expected to learn Friday, Oct. 15 whether its gaming license, needed to operate its Victoria, Australia casino, will be revoked.

Crown Resorts Melbourne suitability Ray Finkelstein
Ray Finkelstein in March hosts the first Royal Inquiry hearing into the suitability of Crown Resorts. The verdict as to whether the company will maintain its gaming license in Melbourne is expected tomorrow, October 15. (Image: AAP)

Crown Melbourne opened nearly a quarter-century ago in May of 1997. The Southbank casino, one of the world’s largest, is the primary revenue generator for Crown Resorts.

If officials in the Australian state decide to annul its gaming operations, the outcome could push Crown closer to selling its assets.

In February, a Royal Inquiry in New South Wales (NSW) determined that Crown Resorts was unsuitable to conduct casino operations. As a result, Crown Sydney, the company’s $1.6 billion development in Barangaroo, opened as a non-gaming high-end resort hotel and residential complex.

Melbourne Determination

Following eight weeks of review that included hearings, testimony, and investigation into the Aussie casino giant, the Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and License of Crown Resorts is scheduled to issue its verdict tomorrow, October 15. Former federal judge Ray Finkelstein, who has chaired the Royal Inquiry, will publish his final report and suitability determination at that time.

The outcome is critical. Prior to Crown Sydney’s opening, Crown Melbourne was responsible for about 65 cents of every dollar in revenue generated by Crown Resorts.

Along with its non-gaming Sydney complex and Melbourne Sydney, Crown Resorts owns and operates Crown Perth, as well as Crown Aspinall’s, a private card club in London.

The NSW Inquiry resolved that Crown Resorts greatly failed to adhere to the state gaming laws. Crown was lambasted for allegedly ignoring criminal networks that used its casinos to launder dirty money. The company was also criticized for how it worked with junket groups throughout Asia — some with ties to illicit networks. Crown also faced condemnation for allowing billionaire James Packer, who founded Crown Resorts, unjust influence on the organization.

Many of the same allegations, some of which Crown present and former executives conceded had merit, were presented before Finkelstein and the Victoria Inquiry.

Wherever I look, I see not just bad conduct, but illegal conduct, improper conduct, unacceptable conduct, and it permeates the whole organization,” Finkelstein declared during a July hearing in what is perhaps a foreshadowing of his verdict.

Crown Resorts was once one of the largest casino operators in the world, with holdings in China’s Macau and investment plans on the Las Vegas Strip and in Miami. The company’s downfall has rendered it to primarily being a domestic casino operator in Australia.

Inquiry Recommends Revocation

During final testimony, the counsel assisting the Victoria Inquiry recommended in its closing submission that the gaming license for Crown Resorts be withdrawn.

“Crown Melbourne is not presently suitable to hold a casino license,” declared counsel Adrian Finanzio.

Yet another Royal Inquiry is underway in Western Australia, where officials there are considering if there’s a need to rescind Crown Perth’s casino rights.

In Sydney, Crown continues to try and implement changes to satisfy concerns raised during the probe. This week, Crown Sydney’s liquor license was extended, but its gaming privileges remain on hold.