Australian Casino Retains Melbourne License After Review

Australian Casino Retains Melbourne License After Review

Gambling in Australia has been under fire on a large scale recently as government bodies and operators have been clashing over regulations. A recent report involving Crown Casino, however, has provided some good news on the Aussie front.

A Community Staple Survives

Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex is located on the south bank of the Yarra River in Melbourne and has been serving that area since 1997. With over 1,604 rooms and featuring attractions such as The Palladium, Seasons of Fortune, Southern Porte Cochere, Revelry, Brigades and Celebration its been a fixture of the city’s nightlife for over 20 years.

After the final report by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) concerning the sixth review of the operator patrons of the popular spot can rest easy. The VCGLR classified Crown Melbourne Limited as a “suitable person to continue to hold its license to operate the Melbourne Casino, that it is complying with relevant legislation and agreements, and that it is in the public interest that the license should continue in force.”

While allowing the company to keep its license the report did explicitly lay out 20 recommendations that were accepted by Crown. The Motley Fool lays out the most important and noteworthy of these as such:

  • Recommendation 3: “The VCGLR recommends that, by 1 July 2019, Crown assess the robustness and effectiveness of its risk framework and systems, including reporting lines in the chain of command, and upgrade them where required.”
  • Recommendation 6: “The VCGLR recommends that, by 1 January 2020, Crown Melbourne review its allocation of staffing resources to increase the number of work hours actually available to responsible gambling and intervention with patrons.”
  • Recommendation 7: “The VCGLR recommends that Crown Melbourne use observable signs in conjunction with other harm minimisation measures such as data analytics to identify patrons at risk of being harmed from gambling.”
  • Recommendation 14: “The VCGLR recommends that, by 1 July 2019, Crown Melbourne develop and implement a responsible gambling strategy focusing on the minimisation of gambling related harm to persons attending the casino.”
  • Recommendation 17: “The VCGLR recommends that, by 1 July 2019, Crown undertake a robust review (with external assistance) of relevant internal control statements, including input from AUSTRAC, to ensure that anti-money laundering risks are appropriately addressed.”

Packer Exemplifies Breaking Conventions

An important part of the review and its decision is the precedent it sets for businesses that don’t follow conventional means of being run. The crux of many debates in Australia over gambling and regulation is founded upon how much corporate governance is hurting entrepreneurship.

Australian business and finance newspaper The Australian Financial Review touched on one of the most interesting sections of the report which discussed chairman James Packer. Packer runs the gambling company (valued at around $9 billion) remotely from his home in Argentina and regularly misses meetings due to the time difference.

“Mr Alexander stated that Mr Packer had remained engaged in the business throughout the review period, including the times when he was not on the boards. He spoke with Mr Packer regularly, and he knew that Mr Packer spoke with other directors and with senior executives with whom he had long-developed relationships…The relationship between Mr. Packer and his controlling interest, and the good governance of the companies, is well mediated by the operations of the boards and committees, and the roles played by the independent directors.”

Earlier in the article the complaints of AMP chairman David Murray chronicle the standard issues with obsessing over compliance to particular regulations and the issues such practice pose to companies like Crown.

Murray claimed that the ASX corporate governance rules were stifling entrepreneurship through excessive reliance on board committees ticking compliance boxes. He claimed board subcommittees were undermining the chief executives of public companies by developing strong relationships with chief financial officers, chief risk officers and heads of human resources. He said this could allow executives to go around the CEO and lead to lack of accountability when things went wrong.

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