Crown Resorts to hear fate of Melbourne casino license on Tuesday

Crown Melbourne

Crown Resorts will hear on Tuesday whether it will be able to keep its Melbourne license after the results of a Royal Commission inquiry are tabled in parliament.

In a short statement, the government thanked presiding judge Raymond Finkelstein for the “extraordinary amount of work” that went into the months-long inquiry and said it would not comment further until the report is tabled.

The commission has been deliberating whether to accept the advice of prosecuting counsel Adrian Finanzio, who recommended that Crown be stripped of its license for its flagship property. In making his submission he said that the problems at the company went too deep to be fixed in a reasonable period of time. 

He acknowledged that such a move would create significant disruptions to the business in Melbourne and said it was not a conclusion he had reached lightly.

Analysts have since said they don’t expect the license to be removed altogether, but the company will be found to be “unsuitable.” This would be similar to what happened following a separate inquiry in New South Wales that left the door open for Crown to regain suitability, rather than taking away its license for its new Barangaroo casino. 

The inquiries into Crown were triggered by an investigative report by Australian media outlets, 60 minutes, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald that aired in 2019. After digging into the arrest of Crown employees in China, they uncovered instances of money laundering in the company’s casinos, as well as hosting VIPs with links to organized crime, drug trafficking and sex trafficking rings.

The Bergin Inquiry in New South Wales found widespread lapses in corporate governance, with a last-minute bombshell dropped that the company conceded money laundering had taken place.

The Royal Commission in Melbourne was announced in February this year, with Western Australia also launching its own investigation.

Since then Crown has begun an extensive reform program, including an overhaul of its entire board. Ziggy Switkowski is replacing Helen Coonan as chairman, while former Lend Lease executive Steve McCann has taken over as CEO.