With over 500,000 Australian residents and visitors playing games of chance at Crown Casino every year, gamblers are a key demographic for the Resorts. And while many of these patrons enter the premises with their eyes open and leave with nothing but winnings, others don’t fare so well. Crown Resorts has been slapped with two AU$120 million ($77.5 million/£67.5 million/US$77.4 million) fines by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) for a range of infractions. This article details the circumstances surrounding this decision and its ramifications.
Certainly a cautionary tale for other resorts based in Victoria, but an equally sobering one for online casinos that offer no deposit bonus codes so freely. Perhaps it is only when such fines are issued providers choose to pull their socks up and ensure compliance reflects the stipulated regulations. Rules are there for a reason, and no company – no matter how much profit it is rolling in – is above the law.
Not Complying with Regulatory Requirement
Over a period of years, Crown Melbourne’s land-based casino failed to fulfill its responsible gambling obligations by failing to act to prevent gambling-related harm. The VGCCC determined that Crown’s inaction was the cause. Customers were often allowed to gamble for hours on end without a break, sometimes for more than 24 hours.
The VGCCC also said Crown had not complied with a regulatory requirement to take all reasonable steps to prevent gamblers from using plastic picks and other gadgets to “automate play” on certain electronic gambling machines, also known as “pokies.” In consequence, the VGCCC issued two fines, the first for $100 million in reference to the operator’s misconduct and code violations in relation to its failure to protect customers and follow responsible gambling policies in the state.
Disciplinary Action Was Necessary
The VGCCC said that Crown Melbourne had contravened local laws by having a button to pick up and receive cash from customers, resulting in a $20 million fine. Crown Melbourne was also fined $1 million after accepting that disciplinary action was necessary to address these and other gambling obligations. A royal commission led by Ray Finkelstein KC investigated Crown Melbourne’s misconduct and released its findings in February 2021.
The Victorian state government imposed spending limits on customers at Crown Casino as part of the 1991 Casino Control Act in September this year in order to prevent Crown from breaching gambling law. Crown was warned in September that it might be fined up to $100 million for this activity. Crown has accepted its social license to operate at the royal commission as a legal obligation and a condition. Crown has been in violation of both legal and moral obligations for a long time in providing gambling products and services in a manner that minimized potential harm to its customers, their families, friends, and communities.
The community-wide harms caused by Crown’s long-standing misconduct are serious and unacceptable and have just been severely punished. We have imposed record $120 million fines on Crown for its misconduct, which has exposed our community to increased gambling-related harm. These offenses occurred as part of a pattern of extensive, sustained, and systematic breaches by Crown over the course of nearly 12 years, rather than being isolated incidents. We encourage all gambling operators to learn from this decision and work towards minimizing the harmful effects of gambling in Victoria.
The Victorian gambling regulator said it would continue to enforce new harm-reduction requirements. “We will pursue this new requirement with vigor and we expect the industry to follow suit.” In May, the VGCCC fined Crown Melbourne $80 million for failing to adequately protect customer data. It found that between 2012 and 2016, Crown Melbourne allowed patrons to gamble with China Union Pay credit and debit cards. In addition to the other findings of the royal commission, Crown Melbourne might be investigated for other violations in New South Wales and Western Australia. The VGCCC reported that it is thinking about disciplinary action against Crown in connection with the other findings of the royal commission.
What Constitutes Responsible Gambling Practices?
The VCGLR’s definition of responsible gambling practices is quite broad and can be broken down into three distinct areas: – Effective identification and management of problem gambling – This refers to Crown’s obligation to establish policies and programs to identify and mitigate the risks of problem gambling. – Informed customer decision-making – This refers to Crown’s obligation to make its policies and programs known to patrons and provide them with the necessary information to make an informed decision. – Responsible marketing and responsible use of prizes – This refers to Crown’s obligation to make its marketing practices transparent and abide by regulations regarding the use of prizes.