8 June, 2021
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Crown Resorts has been so egregiously negligent in its operations and failed to meet community standards at its Melbourne casino to the point it is not fit to hold a casino licence, the Alliance for Gambling Reform asserts in its submission to the Victorian Royal Commission.
Alliance Chief Advocate, the Rev Tim Costello, says that on balance the casino giant should be stripped of its licence and a new, stricter casino regulation process should be put in place in Victoria.
“We’re only three weeks into this much-needed Royal Commission and we’ve already heard some absolutely disturbing testimony,” Rev Costello said. “There seems to have been everything from wilful ignorance through to actively enabling gambling harm occurring at Crown Melbourne, let alone the money laundering issues that were revealed through the Bergin Inquiry in Sydney.
“The Alliance for Gambling Reform exists to ensure gambling harm is reduced and minimised. We accept gambling will always exist in Australia, we’re not prohibitionists. But that’s why it’s so important there are consequences for Crown’s appalling behaviour. They have failed in their obligations as licence holders, repeatedly, even facilitating organised crime via that money laundering.”
Rev Costello said the gambling industry actively exploited people; that this Royal Commission was a chance to put the industry on notice, and introduce effective reform to reduce gambling harm.
“For decades Crown has acted as if a casino licence was their right. It’s not, it’s a privilege bestowed upon Crown by the Victorian Government on behalf of the people of Victoria,” he said. “Our submission outlines many instances of Crown’s failure to uphold its obligations to minimise gambling harm and to act when people are in distress. Their own staff have recounted such failures too.
“This is a company benefiting from rent of just $1 a year on prime public land in the heart of Melbourne. They should be bending over backwards in gratitude to the people of Victoria, not endeavouring to exploit them at every opportunity, and harming our community.
“The Victorian Government has a duty of care to the people of Victoria, and they should be enacting legislation and regulations to effectively reduce gambling harm, not helping Crown make profits.”
Rev Costello said the Alliance’s submission included many recommendations to improve casino operation in Victoria, including tightened regulations, stricter oversight and significantly increased penalties for breaches.
“The current maximum $1 million penalty is just a cost of doing business for Crown,” he said.
Anna Bardsley lost 10 years of her life gambling at Crown and elsewhere. She made her own submission to the commission and agreed that Crown Resorts should lose its casino licence.
“Crown Casino is stripmining our community, extracting money and years from the people of Victoria,” Ms Bardsley said. “They do everything they can to maximise the money they take from you, and do nothing to protect the people using their addictive product.
“They’re no better than the tobacco industry and how they used to prey on children to turn them into smokers. The fact they knew there was money laundering happening in their casino and did nothing about it says everything you need to know about the lack of integrity Crown has.
“A casino is proffering a dangerous, addictive product and should never be allowed to run with the abandon Crown has for decades. Personally I would like the casino to be shut down permanently. But short of that, there needs to be much tighter regulations, they should be watched like hawks, and a cashless gambling system carefully designed to reduce gambling harm should be introduced.”
Media contact: Rebecca Thorpe on 0491 209 436 or [email protected]
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