Crown deemed “unsuitable” for casino license, but could recover


Photo of Crown Casino in Australia
[Image credit: Wikimedia Commons]

If it were up to Adam Bell SC (Senior Council), he might perhaps yank Crown Resorts’ casino license. The legal adviser has been assisting New South Wales (NSW) as it looks into whether the casino operator was worthy of continuing to hold its license and Bell said this week that Crown was “not suitable” as a licensed operator. While the decision isn’t final, it paints a dark picture for Crown, but the company also has a chance to turn things around and get on the right track. 

Crown came under fire for several discrepancies recently, including accusations that it facilitated money-laundering activity and let war criminals gamble at its casinos. As the investigation has continued, more damaging news surfaced, especially against its former chairman and current largest shareholder, James Packer. Bell had reviewed all of the information submitted over the past 48 days of public hearings and presented his findings to the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA), which he told, “We submit that the evidence presented to this inquiry demonstrates that the licensee is not a suitable person to continue to give effect to the license and that Crown Resorts is not a suitable person to be a close associate of the licensee.”

Bell asserted that there were “failures in Crown’s culture, its risk management and compliance processes,” and that the company’s continued attempt to deny any wrongdoing only exacerbated an already precarious stance regarding whether the company should hold its license. The results could have an impact on Crown’s attempt to build its massive, billion-dollar casino in NSW, and could ultimately jeopardize its ability to hold a license anywhere in the country. 

ILGA Commissioner Patricia Bergin absorbed all the details provided by Bell and will now determine what the next step should be. She is expected to explore her options over the course of the next three months before delivering her recommendation on November 1, at which time the ILGA will make the final determination on whether to allow Crown to move forward with its resort in Barangaroo, NSW. 

If Crown is deemed unfit by the ILGA to hold a license, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the company’s days are numbered. Any ruling is expected to carry suggestions on what can be done to turn things around, but Crown will definitely continue to be right in the middle of regulators’ and lawmakers’ radar for years to come. If it were up to MP (Member of Parliament) Andrew Wilkie, a known anti-gambling fan, Crown would be finished in all of Australia. He states, “If Crown is not fit and proper to hold a casino licence in NSW, how can Crown be trusted to run a casino anywhere in Australia?”