Vic gaming watchdog pressures Crown board

Victoria's gaming regulator is increasing the pressure on the board of Crown Resorts, demanding to know why two of the company's directors are fit to associate with its Melbourne casino.

The regulator says it will write to the chair of the Crown Melbourne board, Andrew Demetriou, and Crown Resorts managing director, Ken Barton, to demand they explain their fitness to associate with Crown Melbourne.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation said in a statement that "... associates of the casino operator must be of good repute, having regard to character, honesty and integrity".

The move comes after the release of the Bergin report in NSW on Tuesday, which found Crown facilitated money laundering through subsidiaries' bank accounts and failed to act when it was drawn to their attention.

The inquiry found Crown also put its staff in China in danger of being detained and dealt with junket operators it had been told were involved in organised crime.

Two Crown directors aligned to majority shareholder and non-director James Packer have already quit Crown's board after the inquiry also criticised the billionaire.

Responding to the scathing Bergin report on Wednesday, Premier Daniel Andrews said it was too early to know whether Crown should keep its Victorian gaming licence, and suggested Melbourne's casino may need its own regulator.

The VCGLR has been under-resourced for some time, and its capacity to regulate Crown has been repeatedly called into question.

But VCGLR chief executive Catherine Myers said several investigations into Crown were already underway, some of them predating the Bergin Inquiry.

These include a show cause notice regarding Crown's junket operations, an investigation into the arrest of its employees in China, and demands for improved governance.

The Victorian regulator is also investigating another Crown Resorts director, Harold Mitchell, who in November 2020 was found to have breached his directors' duties on the board of Tennis Australia.

In December 2020, the VGCLR brought forward its five-year review of Crown's licence.

An independent commissioner will be appointed to conduct the review, which is expected to be completed this year.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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