The Royal Commission in Western Australia has found Crown Resorts unsuitable to hold a gambling operation licence in the state but still decided not to strip the company of the right to run its casino in Perth.
The final report of the WA Royal Commission has been tabled earlier today in state parliament after being recently delivered to the Government. At the time, the Racing and Gaming Miniter of the state, Tony Buti, explained that the findings of the Commission were accepted by the Government. Mr Buti also noted that the investigation found that there had been failures by both state regulatory bodies and Crown Resorts.
However, the Royal Commission preferred not to call for the authorities to seize the operating permit of the Australian gambling giant, saying that the company should be given the chance to undertake some measures in an effort to make its services and operations suitable. Commissioners also recommended an independent monitor is established for two years, no matter which company operated Crown Perth. For the time being, Minister Buti has not revealed who would be serving as such and when they would be appointed.
A total of 59 recommendations were included in the report, with the state Government already considering them in detail. Dr Buti further revealed that the Government accepted the need to reform regulation around Crown Resorts, including the provision of more powers to the Minister.
A copy of the report had been handed to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) – the country’s financial crime regulatory body, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) – the country’s corporate regulatory body, the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC), as well as to the WA Police.
A Series of Failures by Crown Resorts Found by WA Royal Commission, but Improvement Started
The WA Royal Commission identified various failures by Crown Resorts, such as working in collaboration with junket operators, or so-called junkets, with links to criminal organisations and permitting them to operate at Crown Perth; facilitating money laundering through its Riverbank accounts; a failure to stick to an effective anti-money laundering scheme; a failure to tackle the gambling-related harm associated with its Perth casino; as well as a failure to be open and accountable in its communications with the state’s gambling regulatory body, the Gaming and Wagering Commission.
Still, the Royal Commission acknowledged that the Australian gambling giant had taken certain steps to bring misconduct to an end, which basically meant that the situation was different from the one the similar investigations in the states of Victoria and New South Wales dealt with. The Commissioners concluded that since the Royal Commission in Victoria tabled its report in October 2021, a lot has changed in the company, and mainly for the better.
The Royal Commission noted that the gambling company acknowledged its findings and the recommendations made as a result of the probe and agreed to cooperate with the Government of Western Australia.
The Commissioners found that the corporate and governance structure of the gambling giant, as well as the risk management, money laundering and gambling-related harm minimisation programs of Crown Perth, required more work and attention.
But Crown Resorts and its Perth casino were not the only ones who failed to live up to the expectations of the Government of Western Australia. The Royal Commission also found that the regulatory framework aimed at managing the Australian gambling giant was designed without an understanding of contemporary casino gaming operations and the potential risks they pose to the public. The Commission also called the regulatory framework used to regulate and manage Crown Resorts “anachronistic”.
WA Gaming and Wagering Commission Failed to Meet Regulatory Objectives
As mentioned above, the investigation of the WA Royal Commission found that the regulatory framework in the state features various flaws and failed to identify the legislative objectives of casino regulation. Furthermore, the report identified “numerous deficiencies” in the work of the local Gaming and Wagering Commission, which the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries also contributed to.
Neither one of the two organisations was found to have an accurate or adequate understanding of its actual role in the casino regulation process. Also, it was found that the gambling regulator has been taking on increasing functions and duties without a sufficient or corresponding increase in expertise, numbers and funding.
The WA Royal Commission made a number of recommendations regarding the operation of the Gaming and Wagering Commission, including running an overhaul of the structure and governance of both Crown Resorts and its casino in Perth; imposing new conditions of the members of the Pearl Room in Crown Perth; the introduction of mandatory limits on electronic gaming machines; an increase in the penalties for regulatory violations; improving the gambling regulator’s staffing and resourcing; as well as a replacement of the existing Casino Control Act.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.