Horne: “We’re establishing a Royal Commission to get answers about Crown Melbourne”
Following the findings of the report into casino operators Crown Resorts in New South Wales, Australia, the state of Victoria is reviewing its gambling legislation and plans to set up an independent casino regulator, after Ministry for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Melissa Horne, set up a commission to review and advise on the necessary structural and governance arrangements.
The announcement came as part of a statement revealing that Victoria is establishing a Royal Commission to investigate Crown Resorts’ operations in Melbourne, the home to the company’s flagship property. The independent review will also assess, among other things, requirements for regulation of money laundering and junket operations. A Royal Commission has the power to compel witnesses to appear and for documentation to be given in evidence.
Minister Horne, said in a statement: “The reports from New South Wales’ ILGA Inquiry were incredibly concerning, which is why we’re establishing a Royal Commission to get the answers we need about Crown Melbourne. The Royal Commission will establish the facts and the Government and the VCGLR will take any necessary action at the conclusion of the investigation. We will not tolerate illegal behaviour in our gaming industry.”
The commission, which is Australia’s most powerful form of public inquiry, will be headed by retired judge Raymond Finkelstein QC, who will hand down his recommendations by 1 August 2021. Finkelstein QC has served more than 40 years at the Victorian Bar and has been a Queen’s Counsel since 1986.
The Bergin Inquiry in NSW, headed by former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin, produced gob-smacking revelations during 60 days of public hearings last year about what was going on behind the scenes at the James Packer-backed group, and found “the company to be unsuitable to hold a license for its new property in Sydney,” prompting the resignation of CEO Ken Barton and other senior directors.
The most damning evidence from that inquiry date back even further, to a series of reports by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes into Crown’s affairs in July 2019, which led to the NSW probe.
The Bergin Report released two weeks ago, stated that Crown is unfit to hold the licenses for its new AU$2.2 billion casino on Sydney Harbour. This prompted Western Australia State to launch its own inquiry with the royal commission powers into Crown Perth last week.