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Australia – Western Australia gaming commission to investigate if Crown is a suitable operator for Perth

By - 16 February 2021

The Gaming and Wagering Commission of Western Australia will now formally recommend that an independent inquiry under the Casino Control Act 1984 be established under the direction of the Minister for Racing, Gaming and Liquor into matters uncovered by the Bergin Inquiry specific to Crown Perth operations.

In requesting the State Solicitor’s Office to prepare terms of reference for such an inquiry, the commission wants to establish: the suitability of Crown Perth as a casino gaming license operator in WA in light of the findings of the Bergin report, the suitability of close associates, the appropriateness of Crown Perth’s responses to the GWC prior to and during the Bergin Inquiry, the effectiveness of the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and the GWC in the discharge of its regulatory responsibilities inclusive of any perceived conflicts of interest and recommendations on potential legislative amendments or regulatory controls that will address strategic risks identified in the Bergin Inquiry.

It said: “The GWC would like to commend the work of Patricia Bergin SC and her team on what was an extensive and thorough investigation into the appropriateness of Crown attaining a restricted gaming licence in NSW and the ongoing governance of Crown Casinos across two jurisdictions. The GWC acknowledges the seriousness of the findings and has been working co-operatively with the Bergin Inquiry since it came to light. Following the release of the Bergin report last Tuesday, the GWC immediately referred it to the WA State’s Solicitor’s Office for advice. The advice received identified that under Western Australian legislation the GWC could not rely on the Bergin Inquiry to make findings in relation to Crown Perth.”

The GWC has reached out to the New South Wales and Victorian regulators to establish a working group with a view to establishing consistent best practice across three jurisdictions and to provide for engagement with key Federal agencies responsible for the Anti-money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006.

In relation to the operation of junkets at Crown Perth, it added: “The GWC has confidence that in light of international borders closing due to COVID-19 there were no junkets taking place at Crown Perth from March 2020. The last junket from mainland China to Crown Perth was in November 2016, the last from Hong Kong was August 2019 and the last from Macau was March 2020.”

The news follows on from the New South Wales gaming regulator officially finding Crown Resorts ‘unsuitable’ to hold a state casino license for Crown Sydney although it did say Crown has ‘every prospect’ of gaining suitability if it cooperates to new guidelines.

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