24 March 2021
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For the Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Chief Advocate, the Rev Tim Costello, the commencement of Victoria’s Royal Commission into Crown today has been more than 20 years in the making.
Rev Costello has been concerned about and flagging money laundering allegations at the casino for more than two decades. He said he is grateful a Royal Commission into the gambling behemoth is finally underway, and with much to investigate.
“This Royal Commission has implications for all of Victoria, not just in terms of this single casino and its operations, and it likely will have national fallout if everything that should be investigated is thoroughly explored,” Rev Costello said.
“This Royal Commission should be about more than just money laundering at Crown and whether the company is fit to hold a casino licence. The Bergin Inquiry thoroughly investigated this and there is a tremendous amount of evidence that has been explored through that excellent investigation.
“Ideally this Royal Commission would do a deep exploration of the impact of gambling and the harms that come with it on our communities. It would also explore the connections to power that have created the situation where Crown was allowed to become essentially a law unto itself.
“Crown didn’t become known as an untouchable foreign state like the Vatican for nothing. It’s a well-earned reputation that should be interrogated at this Royal Commission.”
Rev Costello said he also hoped the Royal Commission would hear from people who had experienced gambling harm while at Crown.
“There are likely thousands of people who could testify to having experienced gambling harm at Crown, either induced or exacerbated by the way that casino operates, the way it effectively preys on people, many of them vulnerable,” he said.
“It’s only fair that the Royal Commission hears from the people directly impacted by the way Crown operates its business. They represent the community, and we all have a stake in the outcome of this Royal Commission. We can’t miss this opportunity.
“Crown has one of the largest gambling floors in the world, and unlike almost any casino elsewhere around the world, it’s an enormous gambling hub in the middle of a major capital city.
“That has an impact on the very fabric of Melbourne, as does the fact this massive casino has become the biggest single-site employer in Victoria. Such a business needs a proper spotlight shone on it, not just a rehash of the Bergin Inquiry.
“I have faith that Justice Ray Finkelstein will consider this as he conducts this Royal Commission.”
Anna Bardsley, who gambled at Crown frequently before her recovery, said she would deeply value the opportunity to address the Royal Commission.
“I don’t think anyone can fully appreciate the consequences of gambling harm unless they hear about them directly from the people who have experienced it,” she said. “We deserve to be heard, and Crown should be forced to answer for the predatory behaviour of their business.”
Media contact: Rebecca Thorpe on 0491 209 436 or [email protected]
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