9 June 2022
A PDF version of this media release is available for download here.
Major concerns over lack of transparency and accountability
The decision to hand the foreign-owned Blackstone Group the license to operate Crown Casino means there will be less transparency and greater risk of gambling harm to the community.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Chief Advocate, Rev. Tim Costello, has warned that Blackstone would actually be less accountable than Crown who was deemed an unsuitable license holder after appalling evidence of fraud, money laundering and the enablement of organised crime.
“As a foreign-owned private equity company, Blackstone will not hold annual general meetings and now that Crown’s Chinese high-roller business has collapsed it will seek to recoup lost income from its poker machines,” Rev. Costello said.
“This decision poses great risk to the community and reflects a failure to heed the lessons of the Royal Commission. It will now be up to this government to have strong and transparent protections in place.”
Rev. Costello said the decision also handed James Packer a $3.2 billion pay day which was irreconcilable with the evidence of all the failings and deliberate wrongdoing at Crown under his tenure.
The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission announced earlier today that it had approved Blackstone Group as: “a suitable associate of Melbourne’s casino operator” after what it described as “comprehensive probity investigations into the group and its associates, and subject to significant conditions”.
It comes just a week after Crown Casino had imposed on it a record $80 million fine for a scheme that allowed the illegal transfer of funds from China that was exposed by the Royal Commission.
Tim Costello is available for further comment.
Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704
See here for a gambling language guide for journalists.