“We cannot change the past, but we can be absolutely steadfast in the approach we take to driving the culture and transparency of the company into the future,” the former Howard government minister said.
Crown told the Victorian commission last month that a search underway of 14 bank accounts checking for evidence of money laundering would not be completed by the inquiry’s August 1 deadline.
Crown’s facilitation of money laundering by criminals at its Melbourne and Perth casinos was one of the key reasons the NSW Bergin inquiry found in February that it was unfit to hold the licence for its new Sydney casino.
However counsel assisting the Victorian inquiry has said the evidence examined in the Bergin inquiry – which was triggered by a series of reports by this masthead – could be just the “tip of the iceberg”.
Commissioner Finkelstein is also probing areas that were excluded from the Bergin inquiry’s terms of reference, in particular whether Crown provides gambling services responsibly.
Already he has heard how Crown lets patrons gamble for 18 hours straight before forcing them to take a break – a limit that was reduced from 24 hours only last year – and only checks on patrons for signs of gambling harm after 12 hours.
Crown also potentially underpaid Victoria $200 million in gambling taxes over the past seven years by deducting marketing expenses, such as free car parking, from its poker machine takings before calculating what it owed the state.
The $8 billion company is still trying to convince the NSW gambling regulator it has made significant enough changes to have its Sydney casino licence reinstated. Crown was set to open the casino at its new $2.2 billion tower at Barangaroo last December.
Victoria’s royal commission will continue public hearings next week. A separate royal commission in Western Australia will recommence hearings later in June.
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