Crown hit with second $1m fine from Victoria regulator over junket non-compliance

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Crown Resorts has been fined $1 million by the Victoria gambling regulator for non-compliance with its regulatory obligations regarding junket operations and for disobeying an order to stop doing business with one agent in particular who was deemed as unsuitable.

It’s the second $1 million fine that the operator has received from the Victoria Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR). This one related to events in 2015 and 2016.

The regulator said Crown failed to terminate its relationship with the junket and its associates, despite being formally told to do so. It failed to do adequate due diligence with respect to an associate of that operator and failed to notify the commission of that associate, as a new non-resident junket, before she began her junket program.

The names of the junket operator and the associate were not disclosed.

“The amount of this fine reflects the seriousness of this matter, particularly Crown’s conduct in failing to immediately implement the requirements of the Commission’s direction to cease a relationship with an unsuitable junket operator,” said VCGLR Chair Ross Kennedy.“The VCGLR expects its regulated entities to be proactive in their compliance with regulatory requirements, and firm action will continue to be taken against those that wilfully disregard or disobey directions of the regulator,” he said.

The incidents for which Crown received this penalty were separate from those outlined in a Royal Commission probe into corporate governance lapses at the company and as a result Crown is likely to face further fines. The VCGLR is currently considering the findings of the report and what further action may need to be taken.

It notes that the newly amended gambling legislation has now passed the Victorian parliament and has increased the maximum possible fine from $1 million to $100 million.

Disciplinary proceedings conducted by the VCGLR after 1 January 2022 would occur under the stronger regulatory obligations imposed by the amending Act, including the increased maximum penalty.

Junket operations were banned in Victoria under the new Casino and Gambling Legislation Amendment Act 2021.

The investigations into Crown Resorts in each of the states in which it operates are expected to lead to a widespread regulatory shakeup in Australia. The regulator in Victoria will no longer be responsible for liquor and will focus exclusively on casino operators.

Crown was accused of numerous lapses in corporate governance as well as money laundering through its casinos. It has been found unsuitable to hold a license in both Sydney and Melbourne. A separate Royal Commission in Australia has yet to report its findings.

“Crown will consider the findings of the VCGLR carefully, with a view to continuing to advance its reform agenda and taking into consideration all available learnings,” Crown CEO Steve McCann said in a statement following the announcement of the latest fine.