The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has taken disciplinary action against Crown Melbourne for failing its Responsible Service of Gambling obligations, imposing two fines totalling $120 million.
The Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence found that Crown:
- breached its code of conduct for the Responsible Service of Gambling over many years by consistently failing to intervene to prevent gambling harm allowing customers to often gamble for long periods without a break, sometimes for more than 24 hours, and
- failed to comply with a statutory direction by the regulator to take all reasonable steps to prevent patrons from using plastic picks and other devices to simulate ‘automatic play’ when gambling on certain electronic gaming machines (or ‘pokies’).
Crown has accepted disciplinary action should be taken and the need for it to continue working on reforms to address these and other Responsible Service of Gambling obligations.
Chairperson Fran Thorn said:
“At the Royal Commission, Crown accepted the Responsible Service of Gambling as both a legal obligation and a condition of its social licence to operate. 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.
“The record fines totalling $120 million that we have imposed on Crown today will send a powerful message to Crown that the Commission will not tolerate misconduct that exposes our community to increased risks of gambling related harm.
“These were not isolated breaches. They were part of a pattern of extensive, sustained and systemic failures by Crown that spanned roughly 12 years.”
“We urge all gambling licence holders to read this decision. This disciplinary action also sounds a warning to all in the Victorian gambling industry that we expect them to do everything they can to minimise the harmful impacts of gambling. The Commission will be resolute in pursuing our new requirement to regulate for harm minimisation, and the industry can expect further action from the Commission on this matter.”
This is the second time the VGCCC has used its stronger enforcement powers to take disciplinary action against Crown for conduct uncovered by the Royal Commission. In May this year the VGCCC fined Crown $80 million over its China Union Pay process. This latest series of fines brings the total fines imposed on Crown by the VGCCC since receiving its strengthened enforcement powers to $200 million.
The VGCCC is also considering further disciplinary proceedings against Crown related to the other findings of the Royal Commission.
The Royal Commission’s findings on Crown’s Responsible Service of Gambling obligations are set out in Chapter 8 of its final report.
Section 69 of the Casino Control Act 1991 makes it a condition of the casino licence for the casino operator to implement a Responsible Service of Gambling code of conduct that complies with certain regulations and Ministerial directions.
Section 23 of the Act is a provision which provides that the VGCCC may give to a casino operator a written direction that relates to the conduct, supervision or control of operations in the casino, and that the operator must comply with the direction as soon as it takes effect.
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