April 28, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation has issued the maximum penalty to the Melbourne casino for failing in its regulatory obligations in relation to junket operators which bring groups of international high rollers to the casino.

According to a report by financial crimes watchdog AUSTRAC issued in December 2020, which didn’t make specific allegations against Crown, the junket tour operations sector “faces multiple criminal threats”, the largest of which is money laundering.

The Victorian gambling regulator yesterday said that Crown Melbourne had failed “to implement a robust process to consider the ongoing probity of junket entities”.

“That fine reflects the seriousness of this matter, and the fact that Crown’s failure to implement a robust process occurred over an extended period,” said VCGLR Chairman Ross Kennedy.

“Robust processes must be implemented to ensure that Crown’s Melbourne casino remains free from criminal influence and exploitation. These are strict and legislated regulatory requirements, and this is an area where Crown has repeatedly failed.”

Crown Melbourne will not be able to resume junket operations until “its processes and procedures have been improved to the satisfaction of the Commission” according to a statement from the body announcing the fine yesterday.

There are currently Royal Commissions underway in Melbourne and Perth regarding Crown’s casino licences. Crown Sydney has yet to be cleared for a gaming licence, following the NSW Bergin inquiry finding the business had links to organised crime and money laundering.