The Crown Resorts Limited casino operator is under investigation by the major gaming regulator responsible for New South Wales, Australia. As revealed by several local news outlets, the gaming regulator for this area has already launched the very first out of five public hearings regarding allegations that Crowns Resorts Limited might have utilized unethical agents to attract Chinese visitors to its facilities.
Crown Resorts Limited which was established back in 2007 is one of the biggest entertainment and gaming groups in Australia. As estimated in 2018, the company has a massive market capitalization of over A$8.7 billion. The company owns and manages two leading entertainment and gambling complexes in Australia including its Crown Perth and Crown Melbourne.
The company was founded in 2007 when Publishing and Broadcasting Limited decided to divest its assets to the Crown Limited company. At the time, Publishing and Broadcasting Limited was renamed to what we know today as Consolidated Media Holdings. In more recent years, Crown Resorts Limited broke ground for its Crown Sydney facility which should be opened this year.
The Investigation by the New South Wales Gaming Regulator
According to one report by the Bloomberg news outlet from several days ago, the investigation conducted by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority is primarily looking into allegations that the Melbourne-based company had used unethical individuals with connections to human trafficking including money launderers and drug gang members in order to entice international patrons including Chinese players to visit its facilities in the first place its Crown Perth and Crown Melbourne Entertainment Complex.
According to the same news outlet, the investigation regarding these allegations against Crown Resorts Limited is led by Patricia Bergin who is a former Supreme Court Judge for New South Wales. It is also reported that the investigation could result in the company losing its operational license which was granted for its Crown Sydney venue. This is a $1.5 billion-worth property located in Barangaroo in central Sydney and it is expected to start welcoming guests later this year following fifty months of construction work.
In the same report, the Bloomberg news outlet also shared that the inquiry could also ask to hear a statement from the biggest investor in the company James Packer who is a billionaire businessman. The inquiry could also ask to hear statements from the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman for Asia-based casino behemoth Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited. It was also reported that Lawrence Ho Yau Lung already explained that his company had intended to acquire 20% shareholding in Crown Resorts Limited, but it decided to pull out from this business arrangement and leave with a 9.9% stake.
Crown Resorts Limited Working on Improving Its Corporate Governance
The Bloomberg news service also shared that the investigation will also look into Crown Resorts Limited connection with Mr. Ho and his father Stanley Ho Hung Sun. Stanley Ho Huan Sun has been prohibited from making investments in Australian casinos due to allegations that he has built his casino empire through connections with groups dealing with organized crime. The elder ho has always denied these allegations.
The same news outlet also reported that the investigation conducted by the New South Wales gambling regulator may also decide to review gambling legislation and regulations in the state as well as further check the vulnerability of local gambling venues to the growing concerns related to money laundering. To prepare for the first hearing, Crown Resorts Limited has tasked Helen Coonan who works for the company as a Non-Executive Chairman to improve the company’s corporate governance.