After an inquiry conducted in New South Wales had concluded that Crown is not suitable to own a licence to run the casino at Barangaroo in Sydney harbour, the royal commission was called because of a similar situation in Victoria.
It was supposed to determine if Crown facilitated money laundering and allowed organised crime junkets to bring in high rollers to gamble in Perth and Melbourne.
The previous NSW inquiry was called for similar allegations brought forth by Net Entertainment in July 2019. Furthermore, another investigation is set to begin in Western Australia on July 26.
After months of examinations, the counsel assisting the Victorian commission has concluded that Crown Resorts can no longer keep its Melbourne casino licence. The main reasons are the Crown’s persistent transgressions and failure to comply with laws and regulations.
Adrian Finanzio, SC, has stated that Crown likely owes the state of Victoria around $480 million in taxes. The lawyer has also concluded that Crown has breached the agreement it has signed for running the casino several times over, as it has failed to combat problem gambling.
In his closing submission, he has also stated that a few people from Crown are not suitable to keep working at the casino. Most notably, chief executive of Crown Melbourne Xavier Walsh and executive chairwoman Helen Coonan.
Even though Ms Coonan was appointed recently and was supposed to handle the necessary changes at Crown, Mr Finanzio believes she is not suitable for the job as she was involved in past failings of the company.
As for the Crown’s future, Mr Finanzio believes that it is unlikely for the company to change sufficiently and become suitable to run casinos again.
Mr Finanzio has told Ray Finkelstein, the head commissioner, that evidence has revealed severe misconduct and even illegal operations. He has also said that all of this was either facilitated or encouraged by the for-profit culture at Crown, which has always valued money above all else.
Ray Finkelstein is the one who has the final word, but Adrian Finanzio has told him that even if he decides that Crown should keep its licence, it should do so with government supervision because he firmly believes it cannot be trusted any longer.
Mr Finanzio is aware that stripping Crown of its licence would disrupt the careers of numerous people, but he firmly believes that this is necessary. He has also added that this is a decision he has not come to lightly. In fact, he has come to this conclusion after meticulous consideration of the evidence involved in the case.
Crown is the largest single-site private employer in the state, with around 12,500 employees. It has been part of the city’s very essence, and Mr Finanzio is well-aware of all that. But, the evidence is clear, and the company cannot be trusted to keep its licence after constant wrongdoings and lack of appropriate actions to change its behaviour.
Crown will provide its final submission on August 3, while Mr Finkelstein is set to make his recommendation to the state government on October 15.