Both land-based and online gambling operators in the Australian territory of Victoria were warned to improve their protocols and adhere to the law, as the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) commenced disciplinary action against land-based operator Crown Melbourne for its questionable financial practices, namely bank and blank cheque protocol.
Although a land-based casino, its online counterparts should use this as a wake-up call in case not all financial practices are up to scratch as stipulated by law. Otherwise, serious repercussions similar to or worse than Crown Melbourne’s could very well be in the cards. Indeed, revocation of operators’ licenses due to questionable activity has happened before and will happen again if and when illicit activity is flagged up.
After further investigation and contacting the team of casino experts at AustralianCasinoClub, we got to know more about the consequences online casinos may face should they breach legal issues whilst in operation. In a nutshell, similar legal actions may be enforced. Not only that, they may have their license permanently revoked and consequently have their brand blacklisted.
This isn’t the first time Crown Melbourne has come under scrutiny for its unlawful activities. Just four months ago, the company were issued an AUD 80 million (USD 57.5 million) fine as a result of its ‘China Union Pay’ process, which was deemed illegal by Victoria’s gambling regulator.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Crown Melbourne has taken heed of the lesson, though, as they now look to be hit with another massive penalty of up us AUD 100 million. Proceedings are still ongoing, but the VGCCC has issued Crown with a notice requesting information connected to violations of section 68 OF the Casino Control Act, which were uncovered during the 2021 Royal Commission investigation.
As it stands, the actions made available to the VGCCC show that Crown Melbourne are liable for fines of up to a whopping AUD 100 million, in addition to significant implications for the company’s license to operate in the territory.
Crown Melbourne’s Violations of the Casino Control Act
In this latest instance, VGCCC found Crown Melbourne to be in breach of section 68 of the Casino Control Act for exchanging bank cheques, whereby the patron was the payee, for gambling chips valued at face value of the cheque. Moreover, evidence emerged to show Crown Melbourne has also allowed patrons to exchange blank cheques made payable to Crown in return for gambling chips that could be used to play at the casino in Melbourne.
A statement by Fran Thorn, chair of the VGCCC, explained the rationale behind the Casino Control Act. She said that the restrictions that had been placed on financial interactions between Crown Melbourne and its clients were essential in terms of protecting both parties. The restrictions exist to protect patrons from gambling uncontrollably and are, therefore, part of the notion of responsible gambling, but they also serve to guard Crown Melbourne against criminal activity and exploitation.
It, therefore, understands how the Royal Commission had deemed the Crown Melbourne’s practices of using blank cheques and bank cheques to be in breach of these very necessary restrictions.
Crown Melbourne: A Multiple Offender
As previously indicated, this isn’t Crown Melbourne’s first offence. In fact, this disciplinary process is actually the third brought against Crown Melbourne based on the findings of the Royal Commission into the Victorian Casino Operator and License; Crown Melbourne has, again, been deemed to be “unsuitable” to hold the Melbourne Casino License as the operator has failed to comply with several legislative obligations on numerous occasions.
As a result of previous indiscretions as outlined by the Royal Commission, Crown Melbourne’s casino has been put under supervision by a state-appointed special manager. In May this year, the VGCCC used its new enforcement powers to place an AUD 80 million penalty on the Crown based on the Royal Commission uncovering evidence to prove that the Crown was implementing an illegal ‘China Union Pay’ process.
Following this offence, the VGCCC began disciplinary proceedings against Crown with regard to the company’s approach to responsible gambling in July. At present, the Victoria gambling regulator is considering the Crown’s response to this disciplinary action and is yet to make a final ruling on their findings.
The Future For Crown Melbourne
It is evident that unless Crown Melbourne makes a concerted effort to up its game in terms of following the prescribed rules put in place by Victoria’s gambling regulator, it will struggle to function as a gambling operator within the province.
The Bergin report already deemed the company unfit to operate in New South Wales, as has been the case in the Barangaroo region of Sydney. So it is clear that if the company’s dubious financial protocols continue, it will not only face severe financial penalties but will eventually struggle to exist at all.