Mia Gardner | 12 Mar 2018
The local Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) has given its go-ahead for a disciplinary process against Crown Resorts, which is related to the firm’s alleged attempts to ‘blank out’ a number of its electronic casino gaming machines on gaming floors in Australia.
In the best case scenario, the VCGLR may only order a suspension of Crown Resorts’ operations and slap the operator with hefty fines for violating local laws. The worst-case scenario, however, implies that the VCGLR may revoke Crown’s flagship casino license altogether, effectively driving the firm out of the regulated Australian market for good.
The Victorian gambling watchdog has noted that its probe predated the many testimonies of the witnesses that Australia’s Independent MP Andrew Wilkie presented to the federation chamber of the House of Representatives late last year.
These whistle-blowers all testified that casino managers ordered staff at the Crown Melbourne to tamper with some of the casino’s slot machines, disabling lower bet provisions and modifying game options to allow the prohibited autoplay feature – both of which could lead to significant losses for players.
The witnesses also alleged that Crown has ‘tolerated the misuse of identity documents’ that assisted a number of VIP players to avoid scrutiny from Australian financial authority Austrac, as well as allowing certain players to smoke marijuana on the casino’s premises as well. Commenting on the allegations, VCGLR noted that it now has grounds to begin disciplinary actions related to the ‘use of blanking buttons’ on some electronic gaming machines at Crown’s casino floor.
Crown Resorts has insisted that it has not breached any gambling regulatory laws, as the use of blanking buttons was implemented as a three-week trial on 17 of the casino’s 2,628 slots. The operator has stoically added that these trials do not require the regulator’s approval, providing the Commission with its stance on the matter in a recent statement.
According to Crown, the Commission’s view is that any trial involving the ‘varying’ of a gaming machine requires its approval. However, Crown Melbourne’s position is that this trial did not require such approval, and that there has thus been no legal contravention of the Gambling Regulatory Act.