Junkets and High Rollers Banned From Crown Perth
Junkets and high rollers are no longer allowed at Crown Resorts’ Perth property. The Gaming and Wagering Commission of Western Australia (GWC) issued the order, which comes into effect immediately.
GWC banned Crown Perth from participating in junkets. The ban covers gambling activities with non-residents of Australia “with whom Crown Perth has an arrangement to pay the patron a commission, or provide transport, accommodation, food, drink, or entertainment, based on the patron’s turnover.”
The ban comes almost exactly three months after Crown announced the cessation of using junkets. Crown issued a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) revealing it isn’t using junkets.
The press release stated “Crown will permanently cease dealing with all junket operators” but that is only half the story. It appears Crown need an English lesson to learn what permanently means. Why? Because the same press statement points to possibly resuming junkets on June 30, 2021. Half-hearted attempts to be transparent are part of the reason for Crown’s recent troubles.
GWA’s timing seems odd given the Chinese nationals are affected by strict travel. This and the fact Crown already promised not to use junkets until July 2021. This means the ban will have little effect short-term, although potential serious ramifications later down the line.
Melbourne Shot Down, Sights Now On Perth
It is understandable why Crown Perth is now in regulators’ sites. The Bergin inquiry uncovered clear evidence of money laundering at Crown Melbourne. Crown and the junkets it used laundered money through various shell accounts. Crown was recklessly indifferent to criminals using these accounts how they saw fit. Evidence shows these accounts laundered money from 2014 through October 2019.
Crown Perth is now under the spotlight because it makes sense Crown didn’t only act poorly in Melbourne.
Paul Papalia, WA Racing and Gaming Minister welcomed the GWC’s orders.
“I would like to thank the Gaming and Wagering Commission for providing timely advice following its consideration of the Begrin Inquiry this afternoon. A formal recommendation from the Commission regarding an inquiry into the issues raised in the Begrin Inquiry, specific to Crown Perth operations, will now be finalised.”
These are worrying times for Crown Resorts, its management team, and investors. The Begrin inquiry deemed Crown unfit to hold a gaming licence in Sydney, leaving the company’s $2.2 billion complex unable to operate its lavish casino. Crown faces the prospect of losing its Melbourne licence if the royal commission recommends that drastic action. Imagine if it loses the right to operate its casino in Perth. It would finish Crown.
No More Directors Resign
You know things are bad when the best news surrounding Crown is no more directors left their posts. CEO Ken Barton and Andrew Demetriou resigned last week. The controversial Harold Mitchell quit this week. A court found Mitchell breached his duties as a Tennis Australia director in July 2020. His behaviour while a Crown director was questionable too.
James Packer remains silent despite Crown falling apart around him. Packer is Crown’s largest shareholder; he holds more than 35% of the company’s stock. Begrin Inquiry investigators grilled Packer over two days. Packer admitted making “shameful and disgraceful” threats to businessman Ben Gray. This fact, coupled with Crown’s willingness to use junkets linked to Triad activity, resulted in turning down Crown’s application for a Sydney gaming licence. Ultimately, it could cost Crown its Melbourne and Sydney licences too.
Media speculation suggests regulators will ask Packer to a significant or all his Crown shares. Packer wants out anyway. An attempted sale to Melco’s Lawrence Ho fell through and sparked an investigation. More recently, Packer denied meeting with American billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson aboard his super-yacht. Adelson died last month, ending any rumours of a Crown takeover.