The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has fined Crown Casino $30m for a bank cheque practice that allowed patrons to gamble with funds from deposited cheques made out to themselves, sometimes before the cheque had cleared. 

The fine followed the findings of the Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence, which looked into the suitability of Crown Melbourne to hold a casino licence. 

In Victoria, the state government’s Casino Control Act 1991 prohibits the usage of cheques in casinos except in limited circumstances, with the regulators stating that the act ‘is designed to prevent the use of cheques to extend credit to gamblers or money laundering.’

Describing the practices at the Casino, the VGCCC statement read: ‘This was a serious contravention because it was undocumented, long-running and subverted the important controls on the use of cheques at the casino.’

Fran Thorn, Chairperson at the VGCCC, said that the organisation would continue to examine Crown’s practices. 

“This is the second time we’ve taken action on undocumented practices at the casino, and we will investigate further to ensure there are no more. To be clear, we will not allow the casino to conceal its practices to avoid scrutiny,” Thorn commented.

“Practices like accepting bank cheques expose Crown to the risk of money laundering, put patrons at risk of gambling harm, and compromise our ability to ensure the casino runs with integrity, safety and fairness.”

A Crown spokesperson responded to the fine, which is the third time the VGCCC has used its powers against Crown in recent years, following fines of $80m and $120m in May and November of 2022.  

“Crown Melbourne accepts the outcome from the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission.

“These practices have ceased, and we have implemented significant improvements to reduce and prevent risk across our business.

“Under new ownership and leadership, our Future Crown program is driving whole-of-company reform as we continue to uplift our culture and build a Crown that exceeds the expectations of our stakeholders and the community.

“We will comply with the directions issued and work constructively with the VGCCC and the Government to address this and other issues raised as part of the Victorian Royal Commission.”

The regulators also said they were concerned by the Commission’s finding that Crown likely accepted ‘blank cheques’ in exchange for chips, with the suggestion being that Crown wrote up the amount of debt on the cheque after the patron had concluded gambling. 

‘If this practice occurred, it would be a further serious contravention of the Act.  However, following careful and detailed consideration, the VGCCC has decided there is insufficient evidence to establish that Crown engaged in this practice,’ the VGCCC’s statement read.

Nevertheless, the regulator has directed Crown to ban the bank and blank cheque practices at the Melbourne casino, alongside reviewing its current cheque policies and investigate undocumented practices.

Read the VGCCC’s full decision and reasoning here

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