Home Gambling Industry Western Australia gaming regulator admits failings in Crown Resorts oversight

Western Australia gaming regulator admits failings in Crown Resorts oversight

01 Feb 2022
3 min. read

Crown Perth
The Western Australian (WA) gaming regulator has admitted that it failed to properly manage conflicts of interests related to Crown Perth's operations. This admission is made as part of a royal commission that investigates whether poor government oversight caused problems like money laundering and problem gaming at the casino. Crown Resorts, the casino's owner, will now have ammunition to defend itself against future regulatory attacks as a result of the admission.

WA gambling is governed by the Gaming and Wagering Commission (GWC). The board consists of seven members and meets on a monthly basis, but is only a part-time entity. It receives support from WA's Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSCI).

WA's inquiry found that the GWC did not investigate money-laundering allegations against Crown after the operator's former legal boss told the regulator that these allegations were nothing but a media witch hunt.

Evidence supports the claim that the ex-chief casino officer of the state used to fish with two Crown employees. The royal commission received closing submissions Tuesday as it prepared to deliver its final report.

Fiona Seaward, the lawyer representing DLGSCI, provided a review during the hearing on GWC and its processes, including the requirement that staff disclose personal relationships to the Crown and register benefits, gifts and hospitality. She said that the department was currently reviewing its code and would receive integrity presentations from both the state's corruption watchdog and the public sector commission.

Seaward stated that the department had acknowledged and now accepts the fact that its historical conflict management was not up to the standards expected of a modern regulatory agency. She stated that the department had accepted and now accepts that its historical conflict management was not up to par for a modern regulatory agency.

Seaward stated that WA doesn't have a permanent chief casino officer. However, Jennifer Shelton, a departmental executive, was to be appointed.

The royal commission is examining whether the WA regulators allowed Crown to self-regulate some aspects of its Perth operations. A preliminary report highlighted changes like the deregulation of junket operations and the reduction in the number of inspectors not permanently present on the casino floor from mid-2015.

Crown, which could be sold to Blackstone Group for $6.46 billion, was found to have "enabled or facilitated" money laundering at its Perth casino. It connected a bank account with Riverbank Investments, a shell company.

Paul Evans, GWC's lawyer, stated that the members of the board received "very little compensation," and the board was dependent upon the department. He said that GWC doesn't encourage sympathy for Crown officers past and present, nor for ex-members of the commission.

In the next few days, the inquiry will hear the closing submissions of James Packer, Crown founder and former chief executive, and Crown lawyers. The billionaire, who was responsible for Crown's Perth casino operations between 2004 and 2016, told the royal commission last year that he had "many mistakes" during his time as Crown's major shareholder.

01 Feb 2022
3 min. read