The legal and regulatory woes facing Australia’s gambling sector continue, with Crown Resorts being handed a record fine and Star Entertainment facing a second class-action lawsuit.
The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) on Monday said it was imposing record fines of $120 million on Crown for failing responsible service of gambling obligations.
“At the Royal Commission, Crown accepted the Responsible Service of Gambling as both a legal obligation and a condition of its social licence to operate,” VGCCC Chair Fran Thorn said. “For a long time, Crown failed in its legal and moral obligation to ensure it provided its gambling products and services in a manner which minimised potential harm to its patrons, their families, friends and communities.
“The record fines totalling $120 million that we have imposed on Crown today will send a powerful message to Crown that the Commission will not tolerate misconduct that exposes our community to increased risks of gambling related harm.
Long-term regulatory breaches
“These were not isolated breaches. They were part of a pattern of extensive, sustained and systemic failures by Crown that spanned roughly 12 years.”
The regulator urged other operators to study the decision carefully. The main reasons for the fine were consistently failing to intervene to prevent gambling harm, allowing customers to gamble for long periods without a break.
The operator also failed to comply with an order to prevent customers from using plastic pics to simulate “automatic play” when playing on pokies.
At rival Star Entertainment, the company is facing a second class action lawsuit, filed by Maurice Blackburn, saying the company made misleading representations over its systems and processes for compliance with AML and counter-terrorism financing.
The claims are similar to those received in a separate class action filed by Slater & Gordon in March this year.
Star said it will defend the proceedings.
Australia’s entire gambling ecosystem is under increased regulatory scrutiny following a 2019 investigative documentary that uncovered serious allegations against Crown Resorts. The report triggered a series of regulatory probes that have now expanded to Star Entertainment and SkyCity Entertainment, as well as the pubs and clubs sector and more recently sports betting.
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