Australia’s Crown Resorts 'not suitable' for Sydney gaming license: Inquiry Commission
Crown Resorts Limited, Australia’s largest casino & entertainment operator, has been found unsuitable to hold a gaming license in Sydney. Patricia Bergin, a former judge of the New South Wales (NSW) Supreme Court who headed the inquiry commission set up to determine the casino operator’s role in money-laundering, said Crown Resorts Ltd. is not suitable to hold a gaming license in the capital city of the state of NSW.
The decision put a question mark on the future of the massive casino that Crown has already built in Australia’s largest city. The casino operator has spent AUS$2.2 billion (roughly $1.71 billion) on its new gaming complex which started operating its hotel and retail spaces in December last year.
The hard ruling of the inquiry commission followed allegations of illegal activity by the operator.
Two directors have already stepped down from their positions after the inquiry commission revealed its findings, confirming that the operator facilitated money laundering and organized crime links.
Commissioner Bergin explained that the operator had breached numerous gambling laws and organized crime agents infiltrated its casinos. According to the commissioner, the casino operator facilitated money laundering, and exposed its staff members to the risk of detention in foreign jurisdictions. The operator also pursued commercial relationships with some people who had connection to criminal groups who sued the backdoor to launder their money.
In the newly released report, Bergin said, “There was a high probability of money laundering in the Melbourne casino premises with hundreds of thousands of dollars brought into the casino in cooler bags and shopping bags and exchanged for chips and plaques.”
The commission’s findings cast dark clouds not only on the newly-built Barangaroo tower casino on Sydney Harbour but also all other venues that have long been being operated by Crown. Some lawmakers have raised demands for cancellation of the operator’s licenses in Melbourne and Perth.
Following the inquiry commission’s ruling, shares of Crown Resorts halted trading on the Australian Securities Exchange.
However, there is ray of hope as Bergin concluded that Crown could be provided permission for its newly-built Barangaroo tower casino on Sydney Harbour if it made some radical reforms. The commissioner stressed that the operator should only be approved for its new gaming facility if it agreed to make reforms like sacking of its current executive team.
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