The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) has tabled its 2018-19 annual report with the State Parliament.
The report details the regulators enforcement outcomes as well as information regarding three complex investigations into major gambling licensees: Tabcorp Wagering (Vic); Intralot Gaming Services; and Crown Melbourne Limited. In addition the report also explains the status of the VCGLR’s Crown China Investigation.
The regulator said each of its complex investigations identified significant improvement opportunities for licensees and resulted in disciplinary action.
Speaking about the report, Catherine Myers, Chief Executive Officer, VCGLR, said: “The Report highlights key outcomes and achievements of the VCGLR in the last financial year, including major investigations, enforcement outcomes and our performance against key priorities set out in our Corporate Plan 2017–20.
“The Report also includes an overview of the status of the VCGLR’s Crown China Investigation as at 30 June 2019, along with an addendum in relation to media reports published in July 2019 concerning the Melbourne casino licensee, Crown.
“In response to the media reports and a subsequent announcement by the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, the VCGLR committed to re-examine a range of issues that had been addressed as part of our most recent five yearly review of the casino operator and licence holder. The VCGLR has provided progress updates to the Minister on these matters.”
Regarding its Crown China Investigation the VCGLR’s report states: “In 2017, the VCGLR commenced an investigation under the Casino Control Act 1991, the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 and the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation Act 2011, to assess the circumstances leading up to the detention and subsequent imprisonment of 19 Crown Melbourne Limited (Crown) staff in China in October 2016.
“Due to the nature and complexity of the investigation, the VCGLR has sought internal and external legal advice, including advice from Senior Counsel, in relation to the Commission’s investigative powers, processes and method. The VCGLR’s in-depth investigation to date has involved issuing statutory demands for information and documents from the casino operator, collecting and analysing a broad range of evidence, conducting interviews with key current and former Crown senior executives and staff (both in Australia and internationally), seeking information from other national and international casino operators, regulators and law enforcement agencies, reviewing open source materials, analysing relevant regulatory requirements and obtaining independent translations of key documents.
“The VCGLR had intended to complete its investigation and include the outcomes in the findings, analysis and recommendations of the Sixth Casino Review, released in June 2018. However, this was precluded by the timing of document disclosures and the possibility of further disclosures. The VCGLR’s investigation into the matter remains incomplete due, in part, to continuing documentary disclosures by Crown as well as considering allegations reported by the media relating to the issue.”
The addendum says: “In July 2019, a series of media reports were published into the Melbourne casino licensee, Crown, relating to junket operators, money laundering and the circumstances surrounding the detention and imprisonment of Crown staff in China.
“In response to the media reports and a subsequent announcement by the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, the VCGLR committed to re-examining issues relating to Crown.
“The VCGLR is currently assessing whether any information discussed in those media reports is relevant or otherwise impacts the VCGLR’s existing and ongoing investigation. The investigation remains ongoing while the VCGLR endeavours to collect any additional relevant information and evidence. When the VCGLR has collected all relevant evidence it can, it will conclude its investigation and determine what regulatory action is appropriate in the circumstances.”
Myers added: “The outcomes and achievements contained in the Annual Report reflect the complexity of the work we do, the thoroughness in which we undertake our work, and our ongoing progress as a regulator.
“The Report demonstrates the action we take when liquor or gambling laws are breached, and where we deem licensee actions could increase the risks of alcohol and gambling related harm.
“Safe and responsible gambling and liquor environments are the focus of everything we do, and our Annual Report 2018-19 provides insights into the way we have embedded this in our work over the last year.”