Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd has been fined AUD120 million (US$77.2 million) in aggregate for serious misconduct, regulators in the Australian state of Victoria said on Monday.
The company runs casino complexes at its flagship Crown Melbourne (pictured) in Victoria; Crown Perth, in Western Australia; and Crown Sydney in New South Wales. Crown was acquired in June by private investment firm Blackstone Inc for US$6.15 billion.
The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission said in its report that it had “taken disciplinary action against Crown Melbourne for failing its Responsible Service of Gambling obligations, imposing two fines totalling AUD120 million.”
The regulator said a AUD100 million fine was issued because Crown failed to prevent customers “from gambling for long periods of time.” The second fine of AUD20 million relates to Crown’s failure to prevent “patrons from using plastic picks and other devices to simulate ‘automatic play’ when gambling on certain electronic gaming machine.”
The breaches by Crown were “extensive, sustained, systemic, and very serious”, the regulator said in the report published on its website.
The decision stems from findings during an eight-month royal commission into Crown’s suitability to hold a gaming licence in the state of Victoria. In October, the casino firm was found unsuitable to operate a casino at its resort in Melbourne, but it was able to retain its licence under stricter oversight.
Fran Thorn, chairperson of the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission, said in prepared remarks on Monday: “For a long time, Crown failed in its legal and moral obligation to ensure it provided its gambling products and services in a manner which minimised potential harm to its patrons, their families, friends and communities.”
He added: “These were not isolated breaches. They were part of a pattern of extensive, sustained and systemic failures by Crown that spanned roughly 12 years.”
Mr Thorn also said that the “record fines” imposed by the regulator on Crown “will send a powerful message” that the regulator “will not tolerate misconduct” that exposes the community to “increased risks of gambling related harm”.
In May, the Victorian regulator fined Crown AUD80 million over what it described as “illegal conduct” at Crown Melbourne relating to China UnionPay card transactions.
The regulator said on Monday that it was “also considering further disciplinary proceedings against Crown related to the other findings of the Royal Commission.”
Ciarán Carruthers, former chief operating officer of the Wynn Macau casino property in Macau, took over in September as the new chief executive of Crown.
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